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Bay Area Headlines: Tuesday, 3/24/20, PM


Numbers update / Private lab regulations / Transit agency adjustments

Numbers update

As of this morning, officials in the nine Bay Area counties count 924 positive COVID-19 cases. That’s an increase of 128 or about 16 percent over yesterday. The number of Bay Area deaths from the novel coronavirus remains at 27.

Private lab regulations

Until today, private labs conducting COVID-19 testing have not been required to disclose the extent of their work. That means local health officials have been operating without all the information that they need to monitor the virus. Several local Bay Area health offices issued an order today that requires private labs to report all of their testing results to public health authorities. Labs need to report the results within an hour. Also, they are required to report “information that allows health officials to better locate the person tested.” Previously, private labs only had to report positive tests. That meant public health authorities couldn’t track rates of infection in communities where the virus might be spreading more quickly than others. The order is effective in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara.

Transit agency adjustments

AC Transit is maintaining all routes right now. But in order to protect drivers and the public, the agency has limited access at the front of its buses. Fareboxes are at the front, so for the time being, the operator has decided to forgo fares for driver safety. Most passengers will now use rear-doors to board. Those who use wheelchairs, mobility devices or carts will still be able to use the front doors. Officials strongly encourage riders to stand or sit six-feet away from other passengers and the operator while using the bus.

Other transit agencies have taken stronger measures. Some, like Golden Gate Ferry and Transit and Muni, have gone so far as to reduce or suspend some regular service. The last BART train now runs at 9 o’clock every night. Overall, operators have taken a huge hit to daily ridership since the shelter in place order was implemented. AC Transit and BART have seen ridership decline as much as 90 percent. Bay Area transit agencies asked Congress, yesterday, for emergency funds.

This is a day-to-day situation. Bay Area transit riders should call 511 or visit 511.org for the latest news and updates.