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Bay Area Headlines: Tuesday, 7/21/20, AM



Twelfth Person Dies From COVID-19 At San Quentin / COVID-19 Is Disproportionately Killing Latino Californians, Latest Data Shows / Healthcare Workers Strike In Santa Rosa / Newsom Allows Salons, Barbershops To Move Outdoors


Twelfth Person Dies From COVID-19 At San Quentin


Another California death row inmate has died from what appears to be complications of the coronavirus amid an outbreak sweeping through San Quentin State Prison. Fifty-eight year old Troy A. Ashmus died yesterday outside of the prison near San Francisco, according to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The exact cause of his death was under investigation but appeared to be COVID-19-related, prison officials said.

Ashmus was the seventh death row prisoner and the 12th overall at San Quentin to die from confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections.

There have been nearly 7,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases among inmates in the state prison system, including more than 2,000 active cases and 39 confirmed deaths, according to state figures.

Dozens of inmates are hospitalized, some of them in intensive care.

Corrections officials say more than 800 employees also have active cases of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Is Disproportionately Killing Latino Californians, Latest Data Shows

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Latino Californians have been vocal about how the virus could hit their community hard. They say they tend to be in higher risk jobs and have less access to medical care than other groups. 


Latinos in their 50’s and early 60’s are dying from the virus at a rate five times faster than whites and one-point-five times faster than Blacks in the same age group, according to a new UCLA study.


Co-author David Hayes-Bautista says the disparity is driven by Latino farm workers who weren’t protected early in the pandemic.


“And for the first two months we never thought of them as being as essential as physicians and nurses.”


He says these workers may not take time off when they’re sick because they’re afraid of being fired. Or they might not know where to get care.


“You can’t find a doctor who speaks spanish, you don’t have health insurance, how are you going to do that? A lot of Latinos haven’t gotten into the systems until after they’ve been exposed massively, eventually contract it, eventually develop a full blown case of the disease, and then they show up at the E.R.”


Earlier this summer, a push to expand Medi-Cal to undocumented seniors got pulled from the state budget due to cost. Advocates hope these numbers will add fuel to the fight for broader health care access for this population.

Healthcare Workers Strike In Santa Rosa


Hundreds of healthcare workers will continue striking todayat Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. The planned five-day strike is being led by the National Union of Healthcare Workers, which represents about 740 staff at the hospital. A union statement claims that hospital management is putting them at risk by failing to provide enough personal protective equipment. They’re also protesting a  plan that would more than double annual healthcare premiums for workers. 

For their part, hospital officials claim that any statement denying that PPE was provided is simply not true. In a statement, Hospital CEO Tyler Hedden claims that the hospital wants to reach an agreement with the union as soon as possible so that employees can receive the immediate wage increases the hospital is offering. Wages for union workers are set to increase 12% over four years, added to other wage increases based on seniority.

Workers are currently operating without a contract. Negotiations have lasted more than a year without an agreement. The hospital’s last bargaining update came on June 19, with promises to increase wages, provide more health plan options, and increase paid time off. But they didn’t meet union demands.

Now is a tough time for a labor dispute; Sonoma county, where the hospital is located, is facing a 40% jump in coronavirus cases over the past week. The hospital is contracting with replacement caregivers to ensure continued care for patients is provided while workers are striking.

Newsom Allows Salons, Barbershops To Move Outdoors

California forced most hair and nail salons to close last week, but now the state is giving them permission to move their  services outside during the pandemic. State regulations normally prohibit hair and cosmetic services to take place outdoors. But after a spike in coronavirus cases prompted a second round of closures last week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced he’ll waive those rules.

But it’s not as simple as setting up chairs and mirrors in the parking lot, says Jill Cromwell. She owns three salons in the Sacramento area.

 Cromwell is looking into building a functional outdoor space, but estimates it could cost up to 100-thousand-dollars.

“It’s expensive to get plumbing and electricity and proper stations that would be comfortable for everybody and still professional.”

The new guidelines apply to hair, skin, nail and massage services and they still require mask wearing — even outdoors.