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Bay Area Headlines: Friday, 7/3/20, AM

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California Needs To Chill Over Holiday Weekend / Santa Clara School Administrators Quarantined / PG&E Emerges From Bankruptcy / SF’s Falling Rent

 

California Needs To Chill Over Holiday Weekend

California's mood has gone from optimistic to sour as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations rise heading into the July 4th weekend. Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered bars and indoor restaurant dining closed in most of the state, many beaches are off limits, and he's imploring Californians to avoid holiday gatherings with family and friends:

 

“Look at the epidemiology. Look at the spread of this virus over the last few weeks. Look at the fact that our hospitalization rate has gone up 56% in just two weeks. Consider the fact that ICUs have gone up 49% in the last few weeks. Consider that when you go about coming together, perhaps, with members of your family, or strangers, or neighbors you haven’t been with in some time, over the course of the weekend. And just consider one of those stats may be you.”

Since Memorial Day, California has gone from a coronavirus success story to a cautionary tale. Health experts say the change was a combination of a populace made complacent by positive trends, the rapid reopening of businesses, and the late adoption of a mandatory mask rule. 

Santa Clara School Administrators Quarantined

More than 40 school administrators in the South Bay are quarantining after being exposed to COVID-19 during an in-person meeting held by the Santa Clara Unified School District.

The meeting — held on June 19 — was to discuss how and when to bring students back to school. One attendee was pre-symptomatic at the time, and has since tested positive for the coronavirus. Superintendent Stella Kemp confirmed the exposure. 

The superintendent insisted that meeting face-to-face was necessary, adding that everyone who attended has since been tested. As far as she knows, no one else tested positive.

Santa Clara County is struggling to contain the spread of the virus and hospitalizations increased more than 50% the last week

On Tuesday, county health officials released recommendations for re-opening, including guidelines for In-person instruction in the fall.

PG&E Emerges From Bankruptcy

Pacific Gas & Electric announced Wednesday it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and paid $5.4 billion in initial funds and nearly a quarter of its stock into a trust for victims of wildfires. A federal judge last month approved a $58 billion plan for the company to emerged from bankruptcy by June 30. That was the deadline PG&E had to meet to qualify for coverage from a $21 billion wildfire insurance fund created by California last year.

 

This marks the second time in 16 years that PG&E has navigated a complex bankruptcy case that has raised questions about how it should operate in the future. The last time the company emerged from bankruptcy, in 2004, electricity rates soared and management focused even more on boosting profits instead of upgrading its power supply.

 

SF’s Falling Rent

Data from the apartment rental website Zumper shows that San Francisco rents were down nearly 12% from a year ago. The decline is the largest in the country. And it’s a record drop for a city known to have some of the nation’s highest rent prices

This report comes just weeks after tech companies, including Facebook and Twitter announced that many of their employees can work from home as long as they see fit. With that announcement, employees are able to move to places with lower costs of rent and living. And they seem to be embracing the freedom to work from anywhere. In fact, Zumper has reported that rents are up in nearby Sacramento. Zumper CEO Anthemos Georgiades suggests that a drop in San Francisco rent prices could also be a result of landlords factoring in ongoing unemployment and increased vacancies.

According to Redfin economist Schery Bokhari, these unprecedented rent declines could have a lasting impact on the real estate market of the city.