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Bay Area Headlines: Wednesday, 4/8/20, PM

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Coronavirus Caseload / Sheltering San Francisco's Homeless Residents / Santa Cruz Closes Beaches And Parks 

We are seeing promising signs that sheltering-in-place during the coronavirus crisis is working. Statewide, the number of confirmed cases is up almost eight percent over yesterday. In the Bay Area, we’ve got just over eight percent more than yesterday. Of the nine counties here in the region, Napa County has the least incidence, there are about 18 cases per 100 thousand people. San Mateo County has the most, with 77 cases per 100 thousand individuals. The state’s hardest-hit county is Mono County, which has 134 cases per 100 thousand people. All rates in the state are very low compared with New York City, where some 800 people per 100,000 are infected.

At his daily noon press conference, Governor Gavin Newsom said the state is flexing its economic muscle to acquire safety equipment, like N-95 masks, in bulk. He says it’s more efficient than trying to organize smaller donations. He said, "That's when we are running into walls or running into each other in terms of competition. And so, Californi decided to step back from all of that and say look as a nation-state with the capacity to write a check for hundreds of millions, no billions of dollars. We're in a position to do something bold and big. That could be a catalyst to increase supply and ultimately increase the capacity to procure with more certainty."

The governor also addressed concerns circulating around the country that COVID-19 was disproportionately affecting African Americans. He said his office is gathering demographic data on confirmed cases in California and early results are showing the virus is not playing favorites.

"Currently 30 percent are identified as Hispanic, Latino, Latina; six percent within the black community; and 14 percent within the Asian community. It tracks along the lines of the total population."

According to the 2010 US census, about 40 percent of Californians identify as Hispanic/Latino or Latina. Six percent ID as Black or African American and 15 percent as Asian. About half of the nation’s households have responded to the 2020 Census. The remaining households started receiving paper questionnaires this week.

Sheltering San Francisco's Homeless Residents

Yesterday, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors met to address issues affecting essential workers and the homeless population during the coronavirus crisis. 

The supervisors unanimously approved an emergency ordinance requiring companies with 500 or more employees to pay essential workers, such as janitors and grocery clerks, sick leave. Essential workers receive sick leave if they have COVID-19 symptoms, need to be quarantined, or are caring for a child or someone who is sick.

Supervisor Gordon Mar introduced the ordinance, which he says Mayor London Breed supports.

Several supervisors introduced another emergency ordinance that would require the city to secure at least 8,250 private rooms for homeless people on the streets. Currently, the city is only offering hotel rooms to those already living in shelters and SROs, as well as homeless people who have underlying health conditions or are over 60. 

This comes after three people living in city shelters tested positive for COVID-19, prompting city officials to say they will begin moving unhoused individuals into hotel rooms instead of expanding the city’s shelter system.

Supervisors also voted to add more portable toilets and hand-washing stations throughout the city. Prior to the vote, Mayor Breed announced 15 new toilets and hand-washing stations will be up and running by early next week.

Santa Cruz Closes Beaches And Parks 

In Santa Cruz County, beaches and parks have been a refuge for people stuck in their homes. But starting tonight they will be off-limits. 

Santa Cruz is closing its beaches and parks for one week. County officials say violators may be fined up to $1000.

The order goes into effect at midnight and will last until April 15. That means no gathering over Easter weekend and much of Passover. 

This action coincides with the predicted peak of COVID-19 cases. Sheriff Jim Hart says visitors and locals are treating this crisis as a holiday, and the county wants to do everything they can to halt the spread of this disease.