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Bay Area Headlines: Monday, 4/27/20, PM

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Bay Area Shelter-In-Place Order To Be Extended Through May / Pushback In Rural Counties Against Stay-At-Home Order / Heatwave Brings Crowds To Public Spaces / Stanford Stanford Health Care To Cut Employee Wages / Oakland Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Bay Area Shelter-In-Place Order To Be Extended Through May

Public health officials in several Bay Area counties and cities said today that they plan to announce later this week that the shelter-in-place order set to expire this Sunday will be extended through May with limited easing of certain restrictions. A joint statement sent this morning by the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara said the shelter order initially issued last month has helped in slowing the spread of the virus and preventing local hospitals from being overwhelmed.

The statement said, "Hospitalizations have leveled, but more work is needed to safely reopen our communities. Prematurely lifting restrictions could easily lead to a large surge in cases." The health officers from the several Bay Area jurisdictions this week will also release a set of indicators that will be used to track progress in coronavirus preparedness and response.

Pushback In Rural Counties Against Stay-At-Home Order

Officials from six rural Northern California counties and 14 small cities in them have urged Governor Gavin Newsom to let them reopen their economies. It marks the most significant pushback yet from local leaders against a mandatory stay-at-home order that has left 3 million Californians out of work.

Of the 500,000 people who live in Sutter, Yuba, Butte, Colusa, Tehama, and Glenn counties, only 69 have had confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The counties added at least 475 additional hospital beds to prepare for a feared surge, but so far have only one coronavirus patient in an intensive care unit. That’s according to a letter dated Friday that county and city leaders sent to Newsom asking for the right to exercise local authority in carefully reopening their economies.

The governor says he empathizes, but he insists people throughout the state need to work together to keep a coronavirus resurgence from happening:

“The only thing that will set us back is our behavior. That’s the only thing that’s gonna slow down our ability to reopen this economy … our ability to adapt and modify this stay-at-home order. As I said, weeks, not months, if the data continues to be as stable as it's been over the last few weeks.”

Heatwave Brings Crowds To Public Spaces

In Southern California, a spring heatwave over the weekend lured tens of thousands of people to beaches. Residents compared the crowds to those typically seen on Independence Day.

In response, Newport Beach officials are considering shutting beaches for everyone over the next few weekends. Neighboring Huntington Beach also had big gatherings, despite closed beach parking lots and metered parking along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Some beaches had more restrictions than others depending on the governmental agencies in charge of different segments of the coastline. San Diego city’s beaches opened today and drew surfers back to the water and joggers along the sand, with no sitting or stopping allowed. In Los Angeles, city and county beaches, trails, and playgrounds were closed. Officers on horseback patrolled those areas to enforce social distancing rules. More than half of the state’s cases and deaths have been recorded in the LA area.

On Monterey Bay, police in Pacific Grove said they had to close the picturesque Lovers Point Park and Beach on Saturday because of a lack of social distancing.

In Sacramento, boats crowded the water at Discovery Park and many families set up blankets and chairs by the riverside.

Stanford Stanford Health Care To Cut Employee Wages

Stanford Health Care is planning system-wide pay cuts and furloughs to roughly 14,000 employees. This comes as embattled hospitals across the country fight the pandemic.

Stanford Health Care’s CEO gave employees a few options for reduced pay: take a 20 percent pay cut, take paid time off over the next 10 weeks, or accept a furlough and apply for unemployment. According to the Chronicle, The plan is part of Stanford’s cost-savings measure and initiatives that will impact employees at three hospitals in the bay area. 

The reason? Emergency visits are down dramatically, and hospitals have suspended elective surgeries. At the same time, Bay Area hospitals haven’t experienced the same dramatic surge of COVID-19 patients seen elsewhere in the country. All of this has led to lower revenue. Hence, the pay cuts.

Several unions are attempting to fight the cuts or barter with the hospital administration. Though, Stanford has said there will be no bargaining. And front line workers are speaking out. An open letter from Stanford workers says that the cuts are "disrespectful to all of us who have been coming to work every day, often without proper protection, putting our lives at risk to care for patients."

Employees also question the impact these cuts might have on the quality of care, especially at such a crucial time.

Oakland Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The city of Oakland has agreed to pay $1.4 million to the mother of a homeless man killed by police after they found him in a residential neighborhood with a gun in his hand.

The vote last week by the city council comes more than two years after Oakland police shot Joshua Pawlik, and the agreement settles a wrongful death lawsuit filed by his mother, according to KTVU-TV.

Pawlik's death prompted the Oakland Police Commission to call for the firing of the five officers involved, and the commission voted in February to oust former Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

A caller reported Pawlik sleeping on the ground between two houses with a pistol in his hand. Officers said they fired at him because he would not put down the gun.

Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo told the news station that he voted for the settlement after a consultant told the council that a jury award could cost the fiscally troubled city up to $5 million.

Former Chief Kirkpatrick has vowed to sue the city over her firing.