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Bay Area Headlines: Tuesday, 4/14/20, PM

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When Will This End / Nursing Home Safety / Food Bank Adjustments / Pride Cancelled

When Will This End

Governor Gavin Newsom held a much-anticipated news conference, today, at which we expected he’d talk about the question on everybody’s mind: “When are we going to see some of these stay at home orders lifted?”

The answer? We’re not sure, yet. He says first the state must be able to test, isolate, and support people who’ve been exposed to COVID-19. The health care system needs to be prepared to handle a surge. And public facilities need to be able to support physical distancing. Also, hospitalizations and intensive care patient numbers need to flatten and start to decline over the course of a few weeks. Today, he said, they’re about the same as yesterday.

“In two weeks,” he said, “if we start seeing the benefits and fruits of that, then ask me the question then, and we will be in a very different place where we could be more prescriptive on giving people timelines.”

When stay-at-home rules are lifted, he said, things are going to look different.

“There's no light switch here,” he said. “I would argue it's more like a dimmer. That dimmer’s toggling back and forth between more restrictive and less restrictive measures.”

Newsom was joined by Dr. Sonya Angell, the California Department of Public Health Director. She outlined anticipated changes.

“So for example,” she said, “restaurants will be likely to reopen, but perhaps they'll have fewer tables creating greater opportunity for physical distancing between one another when we're eating out protecting one another as we spend more time in places like we used to enjoy, face coverings will likely to become common in public. Face coverings are not a replacement for physical distancing, but they can add protection and we'll think about that more broadly as more of us go into the public.”

That’s at least a few weeks away, and it sounds like it’ll be longer. For now, Angell and Newsom say Californians must remain diligent at maintaining physical distance and keeping an infection surge from happening. As if to emphasize the point, the governor said COVID-19 cost more lives in the state yesterday than ever before. According to his number, 687 people have died from the virus so far in California.

Nursing Home Safety

Union City Councilmember Jaime Patino took to Facebook Monday night to announce that his 85-year-old grandmother had died AT Hayward’s Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center.

The San Jose Mercury News reports it’s the 10th COVID-19-related death at the center. Lawyers representing one of the families of the deceased are now calling for a criminal investigation. A manager at the Gateway didn’t return a phone call for comment by the time we aired this story.

While this facility is being criticized for allowing an outbreak to occur, we are seeing a rise of COVID-19 cases at nursing homes around the Bay. Alameda County Public Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan ordered all group assisted living sites to adopt new measures to curb the spread of the virus — including that all workers must have their temperatures checked and noone with COVID-19 symptoms can enter. The rules are effective as of today.

Food Bank Adjustments

Mike Altfest is the Director of Community Engagement and Marketing for the Alameda County Community Food Bank. He says, the food bank used to get about twenty five to thirty calls a day on its emergency food line. Now they’re getting about three hundred calls. More than half are first time caller and seniors are a third to two thirds of that.

Instead of waiting for food to arrive at local food pantries, people are so desperate they’re going straight to the source. They’ve been showing up at the food bank’s distribution warehouse. To respond this huge demand, the food bank set up a drive-thru pick-up site at the warehouse.

I asked Altfest if his food bank is seeing the long traffic lines like some cities have? And he said, no. “Luckily, we have a big parking lot.”

The food bank has also partnered with school districts who are handing out free lunches to hand out bags of groceries as well. Altest says, all of this has resulted in the food bank having to buy more food and hire more staff.

The demand is like nothing he’s seen before. He told me, “Unprecedented really is the only word to describe this.”

Pride Cancelled

San Francisco Pride has announced that it is canceling this year’s parade and celebration. Pride usually takes place in June — it draws over half-a-million people annually and distributes about two-and-a-half million dollars to regional non-profits and partners after.

SF Pride Executive Director told 48 Hills, today, that it’s heartbreaking. He added, “But the safety and well-being of our community obviously comes first, which is our main focus, and the meaning behind the event in the first place.”