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Bay Area Headlines: Wednesday, 7/15/20, PM

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CA Revises Testing Guidelines / SFUSD Will Teach At A Distance To Start The Next School Year / Berkeley Moves Forward With Replacing Police On Traffic Stops / SF Board Of Supes Rules On Transportation Matters

CA Revises Testing Guidelines

Around 100-thousand Californians get a coronavirus test each day. But lately, it hasn’t been enough to keep up with a surge in cases. Yesterday, the state announced new guidelines to prioritize testing for people with symptoms, essential workers, and those who were in close contact with someone who tested positive.

Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly is also aiming to cut back on the time people wait to get their results.

“Ensuring that our guidelines say not only who needs to be tested but gives some guidance to labs of which specimens to process first.”

The state is offering to reimburse insurance providers for coronavirus tests in a health care setting. Ghaly hopes that will free up more space for underserved populations at community test sites.

SFUSD Will Teach At A Distance To Start The Next School Year

The San Francisco Unified School District, which holds KALW’s broadcast license, will begin the new school year through video classrooms. After dozens of parents and educators expressed concerns at a board meeting, yesterday, heard here on KALW, Superintendent Vincent Matthews sent out a letter this morning. In the letter, Matthews said:

“We hope to provide a gradual hybrid approach (a combination of in-person and distance learning) for some students when science and data suggest it is safe to do so.”

He says SFUSD will distribute tech to students who did not receive it last spring. His team is working on a detailed plan to improve distance learning and support families and students. More details will be shared at the next SFUSD board meeting, which will take place on Tuesday, July 28.

Berkeley Moves Forward With Replacing Police On Traffic Stops

The city of Berkeley is moving ahead with a proposal to replace police with unarmed civilians to conduct traffic stops. The East Bay Times reports the Berkeley City Council voted early Wednesday to approve a plan that calls on the city manager to convene a community process to pursue the creation of a separate Berkeley transportation department. Experts believe the proposal to separate traffic from law enforcement is the first of its kind in the U.S. Cities are attempting broad public safety reforms following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

SF Board Of Supes Rules On Transportation Matters

Transportation authorities in the Bay Area have been facing low ridership and higher cleaning costs since the pandemic began. But this week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors chose not to introduce a tax measure that could help Caltrain stay afloat.

Since shelter in place began, Caltrain has reported a 97% decrease in ridership which has left a massive gap in their budget. But on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors decided not to take up a ballot measure designed to keep Caltrain running. If approved, the measure would have introduced a 1/8-cent sales tax which could have generated upwards of 100 million dollars a year. The measure needed approval from four transit boards and Boards of Supervisors in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties to make it onto November ballots.

BART is also facing a similar COVID-induced cash crunch. The transportation system received about $250 million from the first federal CARES Act bailout ad $125 million more has been allocated by the regional Metropolitan Transit Commission. But, BART General Manager Bob Powers says more assistance is needed to make up for roughly $975 million in lost revenue over the next three years