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Bay Area Headlines: Monday, 7/13/20, AM

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California Virus Deaths Top 7,000 As Case Numbers Climb / CA to Release Thousands Of Inmates Early As Coronavirus Rips Through Prison System / People In Martinez Protest For Black Lives Matter

California Virus Deaths Top 7,000 As Case Numbers Climb

Californians mostly heeded warnings to keep a safe distance from each other over the weekend as the state grappled with a spike in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations. The California Department of Public Health reported, yesterday, that the statewide death toll increased by 71 to hit 7,107. Daily death totals have begun to increase after a month of spiking cases and hospitalizations. There are now more than 320,800 positive cases statewide.

 

Temperatures soared into the 90s in many parts of the state, including the Bay Area. As the temperatures rise, it becomes more stifling for people to keep wearing masks, though major rises in the country’s hotter states — such as Florida and Arizona — show it’s vitally important.

In Contra Costa County, officials issued a health order over the weekend that will prohibit indoor religious services beginning this morning. Outdoor gatherings, including worship services and political protests, will still be allowed as long as masks are worn and physical distancing rules are followed. County officials said in a statement that more than 8% of its COVID-19 tests are now coming back positive over the previous seven days.

And two more inmates from San Quentin State Prison died Saturday at outside hospitals from complications related to COVID-19, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Officials said San Quentin has 1,485 inmates who are actively positive for the virus.

CA to Release Thousands Of Inmates Early As Coronavirus Rips Through Prison System

As the coronavirus rips through California’s prison system, the state says it will expedite thousands of inmates for early release. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, or CDCR announced around 8-thousand inmates could now be eligible for early release by the end of August.

The new guidelines apply to nonviolent, low-risk offenders who are six months from the end of their sentence.

Governor Gavin Newsom okayed the move after mounting pressure from advocates and lawmakers following a virus outbreak at San Quentin in the Bay Area.

Jay Jordan with the group Californians for Safety and Justice said:

“This is just a process of accelerating people who are coming home already to come home quicker and to come home safely — to come home and not be infected by COVID.”

Nearly 7,000 inmates and corrections staff have been infected and at least 31 inmates have died.

People In Martinez Protest For Black Lives Matter

Hundreds of anti-racism protesters demonstrated peacefully, yesterday, in the Bay Area city of Martinez. The demonstration came as racial tensions in the town of 38,000 heightened, recently, after two people were charged with hate crimes when they defaced a city-sanctioned “Black Lives Matter” mural. At one point during yesterday’s protest, a man in the crowd shouted “all lives matter,” setting off a brief verbal conflict with demonstrators before the man left.

Educator Kirsten Watson said:

“A lot of us are here today to say that we will not stand for hate in this city."

She was among the vast majority of protesters wearing masks because of the coronavirus.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that activists organized Sunday’s march after police found flyers threatening Black Lives Matter supporters in the name of a white-power group.

Before the demonstration police were concerned about violence and asked the protesters and counter-protesters to postpone, but both sides declined. Many businesses boarded up windows as a precaution.

In a letter to the community posted to social media on Saturday, Martinez Police Chief Manjit Sappal said he learned that counter-protesters may come with the intention of “protecting the community from protesters or protecting the police officers working the event." He urged people not to come to the city armed.

But only a handful of counter-demonstrators showed up.

A 165-foot Black Lives Matter mural remains painted on Court Street. On Wednesday, police in Martinez were called to investigate after someone painted “White Lives Matter” on another city street. Officials say detectives are searching for witnesses and video surveillance.