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Bay Area Headlines: Thursday, 7/23/20, AM



CA Leads Nation In COVID Cases / Unhoused People In East Bay May Be Entitled Compensation / CSU Board Approves Ethnic Studies Requirement / Debunking Mask Myths

CA Leads Nation In COVID Cases

California has surpassed New York for the most coronavirus cases in the country. The state reports more than 409,000 infections after setting a record, Tuesday, for the state's most confirmed new cases in a single day since the start of the pandemic.


The surge of cases comes as California reopened much of its economy in May. Since then, Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered statewide shutdowns for bars and indoor dining on virtually every large county and some small ones where the outbreak is most severe. He’s also imposed tougher restrictions, including bans on indoor worship services and in-person instruction at schools.

But New York still has by far the most coronavirus-related deaths in the country with more than 32,500. It's four times more than have died in California. But California's cases have steadily climbed, with the state confirming 12,807 new cases on Tuesday — that’s the highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic.

California initially succeeded in slowing the spread of the virus. But the state has had a sharp reversal, with COVID-19 infection rates climbing sharply in recent weeks. Throughout May and June, California reopened much of its economy, and people resumed shopping in stores and dining in restaurants. The extent of reopening was evident in data that showed California’s unemployment rate fell in June as the state added a record 558,000 jobs. But infections began to surge.

Unhoused People In East Bay May Be Entitled Compensation


Homeless people in the East Bay may be entitled to compensation for belongings confiscated during unannounced cleanup sweeps. 


If your stuff was removed by an East Bay cleanup crew between 2014 to 2019, Caltrans may owe you money. That’s because non-profit advocates filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the homeless in 2016, claiming Caltrans violated their Fourth Amendment rights.

Instead of duking it out in court, Caltrans and the advocates agreed to settle. In February, an Alameda County Superior Court judge approved a $2 million settlement against the agency, including 1.3 million to people who had their property destroyed. If you were one of those people, you MAY be entitled to $200 to $5,500. 

The settlement also requires CalTrans to post notices 48 hours before future  sweeps. The claim filing process opened up last week. And the settlement is in effect for seven years. Find the claim form here.


CSU Board Approves Ethnic Studies Requirement


Ethnic and social justice studies will join English and science courses as graduation requirements at California State University. The Board of Trustees at the nation’s largest four-year public university system approved the idea, yesterday. The change made amid the national reckoning over racism and police brutality will take effect in three years and represent the first change to the school’s general education curriculum in over 40 years.

Meanwhile, the state Legislature is currently considering a bill to require ethnic studies at Cal State schools — it’s a more narrowly focused proposal that wouldn't count social justice classes, and if passed, it would overrule the action by the CSU Board.

The plan approved, yesterday, allows students to choose from a wide array of ethnic studies topics to fulfill the course requirement. It lets students take courses on social justice that explore issues such as the criminal justice system and public health disparities.

TheLegislature’s bill was authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a San Diego Democrat and former professor. Her bill would take effect in the 2021-2022 academic year and require students to take one course focusing on Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans or Latina and Latino Americans.

The university's plan would cost $3 million to $4 million, while the legislature’s bill is estimated to need $16 million for implementation.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who sits on the Cal State board, voted against the proposal. So did trustee Lateefah Simon, who called the school's proposal exhaustive and thoughtful but voted against it, saying its broad social justice approach might allow students to essentially skip ethnic studies curricula.

Debunking Mask Myths

Many false and misleading claims on social media say that wearing a face mask can be harmful to one’s health.

This unfounded claim said that people are checking into the ER with fungal lung infections — all due to wearing a face covering to slow COVID-19. And this wasn’t just any Facebook post — it was shared 17 thousand times and viewed by hundreds of thousands over the holiday weekend. We checked with regional, statewide and national emergency physician groups. Not a single one said they’d seen any evidence to support this claim. In fact, health experts recommend wearing face coverings when you can’t keep a safe distance, which is now a state requirement. Doctors also say there’s no evidence whatsoever that wearing a standard mask is harmful.In the end, we found this post about people going to the ER with lung infections due to masks is just another bogus claim on Facebook.We rated it “False.”