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Bay Area Headlines: Thursday 06/18/20 AM



Smart Trash Cans In San Francisco’s Tenderloin / Update On Nooses In Oakland / Debunking COVID-19 Mortality Myths / CA Schools Superintendent Speaks Out About School Names


Smart Trash Cans In San Francisco’s Tenderloin


Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit San Francisco in early March, the Tenderloin has seen a nearly 300 percent increase of homeless residents. Many were forced out of homeless shelters after capacity was limited due to social distancing guidelines. With more people on the streets, trash levels have gotten out of hand. 

In May, the mayor’s office introduced a plan to address safety concerns in the neighborhood within a few months. That included removal of tents and increased street powerwashing. This week, the “BigBelly” trash cans became part of the effort. 

San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney announced Monday the installation of 68 smart trash cans into the Tenderloin neighborhood. Haney said the project aims to provide the Tenderloin with the same amenities as any other San Francisco district. 

“This is something that residents have been asking for for a long time. And something I’ve prioritized in last year’s budget. Uh to make sure that in general you shouldn’t have to walk block after block and not even see a trash can. And often the trash cans that you do see, well are broken, or have trash pulled out of it.”

The “BigBelly” trash cans hold 5 times the volume of regular city cans. The new cans also collect data to streamline pickup services, saving the city money on collection long term. Haney says each unit costs between one thousand and fifteen hundred dollars a year. 

Last week, the city settled a lawsuit regarding the sanitation and safety of the streets requiring a reduction in tent occupancy of seventy percent by July 20th. 

Update On Nooses In Oakland

Oakland’s mayor says five ropes found hanging from trees in a city park are nooses and racially-charged symbols of terror but a resident says he put them up simply for exercse. Mayor Libby Schaaf said Wednesday that a hate crime investigation is under way after a social media post identified a noose at Lake Merritt. Police investigating Tuesday said they found five ropes and notified the FBI. But Victor Sengbe, who is black, told KGO-TV that the ropes were part of a rigging that he and his friends used for a swing system. He says it's unfortunate they've been misinterpreted.

Debunking COVID-19 Mortality Myths

You might have seen this claim on Facebook or Instagram. It’s been shared thousands of times. And it says the CDC "confirmed a 0.2% death-rate forCOVID-19." In reality, that’s the low-end of a range of CDC estimates. The federal agency put the high-end at 1% — or five times larger. 


Thomas Novotny is professor emeritus of epidemiology and biostatistics at San Diego State. He says claims like this one that downplay the severity of COVID-19 can do a lot of harm.

“It misrepresents what the risks are. Going back to the high-risk groups, the people that are going to be dying from this in a hospital, the people that are going to be hospitalized and creating an enormous healthcare burden, that’s not reflected in that number.”


Novotny says it’s impossible to know the true mortality rate of COVID-19 at this point. That’s because many who develop mild cases are never tested and some who die of the disease aren’t counted in official tallies. 


“We won’t know what it is unless we look retrospectively, like a year from now. Then we’ll have a better idea of what the accurate picture is.”


By picking one estimate from the CDC range, these social media posts do include a sliver of truth. But overall, they present a misleading picture about the dangers of this disease.

CA Schools Superintendent Speaks Out About School Names

California schools superintendent Tony Thurmond says that schools named for Confederate leaders or other racially charged figures still bring up feelings of racial inequality, and he commended school leaders who are opting to rename them. He said he applauds school and community leaders who have worked to rename them in more thoughtful and sensitive ways.

Thurmond made the comments in response to a question at a media briefing yesterday. They come after the Berkeley Unified School District Board unanimously approved a plan last week to rename two schools named for historical figures who were slaveholders.

Kevin Vance created a program of folk music for KALW, A Patchwork Quilt, in October 1991. He grew up in Berkeley during the 1960s and '70s and spent his years learning in public schools, community colleges, bookstores, libraries, and non-commercial radio stations, as well as from the people around him. When he's not on the radio, then he's selling books, taking care of his family, listening to music, entering stuff into a computer, or taking a class.