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Bay Area Headlines: Tuesday, 4/7/20, PM

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Coronavirus Curve / BART And Muni Service Updates / Emergency Rules For Court Procedures

Coronavirus Curve

Today, Governor Gavin Newsom shared some good news regarding the efficacy of California's shelter-in-place rules at slowing the spread of COVID-19. "Let me give you a sense of optimism in terms of the curve in California bending," he said. "It is bending, but it is also stretching, and I want to make that point and that distinction."

That means that while the rate of new coronavirus cases is not growing too fast, comparatively, cases could continue for a long time. As of late this morning, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, there are 16,521 confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide. That’s up over a thousand from yesterday. Here in the Bay Area, there are 3,854 confirmed cases. That’s up just over a hundred from yesterday. The number of patients hospitalized in California because of the coronavirus continues to steadily rise.

Bay Area counties announced that district schools will not reopen this academic year. In a press release, San Francisco Unified Superintendent Vincent Matthews said, "I want to be clear: the 2019-2020 school year has not ended. Learning will continue to the greatest extent possible through both digital and non-digital interactive teacher-led learning."

BART And Muni Service Updates

BART and San Francisco’s Muni are cutting service because of lower ridership due to the coronavirus crisis. 

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is stripping down its Muni bus service to just 17 lines it deems essential for workers to get across the city.

On its blog, the agency said that these routes will still provide service within one mile of all San Franciscans and continue to serve San Francisco’s medical facilities and the people who need public transit most. 

Meanwhile, BART will be reducing its service to only run trains every half hour starting Wednesday.

Bob Allen, a transportation justice advocate for the Oakland nonprofit Urban Habitat, says research shows about a third of essential workers in the Bay Area use public transit to get to work. He acknowledges that transit agencies are trying to balance public health needs with service, but the question is how seniors and people with disabilities will get around right now.

Emergency Rules For Court Procedures

The California Judicial Council met yesterday and set standards for how courts should operate during the COVID-19 emergency. 

Courts around the Bay Area have been changing their procedures to minimize health risks. But it’s made for a confusing patchwork of policies from county to county.

So the judicial council of California met yesterday and approved emergency rules for new court procedures.

Now, courts will not order or enforce any evictions, regardless of cause. They will also suspend judicial foreclosures. The only exception is for public health and safety. And the council is getting rid of bail for most misdemeanors and lower-level felony offenses. It didn’t change bail settings for those charged with violent crimes and higher-level felonies. 

Courts will also be allowed to conduct pretrial proceedings like arraignments via phone or video, with a Defendant’s consent. 

All of this is part of ongoing efforts to minimize the risk of exposure to coronavirus. 

The emergency rules will remain in effect until 90 days after the state of emergency ends.