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Bay Area Headlines: Monday, 8/3/20, AM

President Trump Draws False Contrast Between Absentee, Mail-In Voting / California Hospitals Continue Elective Surgeries As COVID-19 Cases Rise / First Young Person Death In California Is Central Valley Teen / Are Shrimp-Flavored Dog Treats The Answer To Keeping Lake Tahoe Blue?

POLITIFACT CALIFORNIA: President Trump Draws False Contrast Between Absentee, Mail-In Voting

President Trump has repeatedly and without evidence claimed mail-in ballots will lead to widespread fraud in November, while saying ‘absentee’ ballots are safe. Is there any difference between the two?

Here’s President Trump making a distinction that election experts say is just plain wrong — during a North Carolina ‘tele-rally’ in late July:

“The mail-in ballots are very dangerous. The absentee ballots are great because with an absentee ballot you have to go out and you have to — you have to do a little work for it. You have to tell them. You have to give them information. You have to go get it if you’re not able to vote.”

Voters have been allowed to request what were traditionally called absentee ballots for decades — if they were sick, disabled or traveling during the election, they could drop this ballot in the mail and participate. But Florida law professor and elections expert Darren Hutchinson says a majority of states no longer require voters to provide a reason to get an absentee ballot. And he says the term has been phased out in many states, including California, in favor of “mail-in” voting or “vote-by-mail.”

“There’s really no distinction. So, it’s basically a falsehood that’s been repeated over and over and over again.”

Some states still do require voters to provide a reason when requesting an absentee ballot. But the safeguards and verification process is no different no matter the method of voting. Jessica Levinson of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles:

“It is not the case that there is one bucket of absentee balloting that is much safer, and then vote-by-mail just lacks all integrity, or vice versa.”

In the end, we found President Trump’s statements are misleading and not grounded in fact. There is no substantial difference between absentee and mail-in voting.

California Hospitals Continue Elective Surgeries As COVID-19 Cases Rise

Despite a steady rise in California’s COVID-19 cases, most hospitals are not canceling surgeries. When the pandemic started, Governor Gavin Newsom called on hospitals to cancel procedures that weren’t absolutely necessary, and then loosened the restrictions as infection rates slowed. Now that cases are surging, the state says it’s letting hospitals decide whether to limit treatment for non-COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Clifford Ko, a UCLA professor and a member of the American College of Surgeons, says:

“What we’re finding now is that hospitals are not delaying because they know they can still give care, which is the principle reason hospitals are there.”

But some hospital workers say elective procedures should be canceled to conserve protective equipment and free up staff. At UC Davis Medical Center, spokesperson Steve Telliano says it’s a day-by-day decision:

“We’ll take half a floor, we’ll close it and make sure it’s converted to COVID-19 care … as we have more patients, we do that on more floors of the hospital, or if less space is needed than we unconvert those spaces and use them for other things.”

When hospitals did limit procedures, many reported losing major revenue and having to lay off or furlough staff. But if COVID hospitalizations continue to rise, it could happen again. Dignity Health recently canceled elective surgeries at two of their hospitals in Bakersfield.

First Young Person Death In California Is Central Valley Teen

A teenager in the Central Valley has died from COVID-19, according to California health officials. This is the first death of a young person from the virus in the state.

This person was between ages 12 and 17, but the state won’t provide more exact information due to patient confidentiality. The teen did have underlying health conditions. The death of Southern California teenager back in March was originally linked to COVID-19, but that was later changed. There have been no reported deaths in children under age 12.

In California, people under 18 make up 9% of cases, while people ages 18 to 34 make up 35%.Initially, the virus was thought to mostly pose a threat to older adults. Health officials in several California counties have said young people going to beaches and backyard parties is a main cause of the recent uptick.

Are Shrimp-Flavored Dog Treats The Answer To Keeping Lake Tahoe Blue?

Once a year scientists release data about how Lake Tahoe is changing. This year they found the lake lost eight feet of clarity and partly blame it on trillions of tiny shrimp. Researchers have an answer dog treats.

Just a mention of mysis shrimp to Geoffrey Schladow makes him smile. That’s because UC Davis researchers have found a way to rid Lake Tahoe of trillions of them.

“The mysis themselves are very rich in Omega-3 three fatty acids.”

Schladow directs UC Davis’ Tahoe Environmental Research Center, and says the shrimp were put into the lake on purpose to feed trout, but the shrimp flourished. They eat zooplankton that naturally consume things like algae that cloud the lake. That’s an issue because the effects of climate change are also clouding the lake.

The idea Schladow is so happy about starts with harvesting the shrimp with boats and nets. Then using the shrimp, which are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, as a main ingredient for dog treats.

“We found out that turning it into dog treats we can actually make money on it.”

If successful the dog treat idea, he says, would break the cycle between climate change and declining clarity, and could be a tool for lake’s with similar issues around the globe.

Four Bears Hit By Vehicles, Two Killed, In Yosemite National Park

Officials are urging drivers to slow down after four bears were struck by vehicles and two were killed in Yosemite National Park in recent weeks. The surviving bears were believed to be seriously injured after being hit by vehicles going faster than the 25 mile-an-hour speed limit. The National Park Service estimates over 400 bears have been hit by cars in Yosemite dating back to 1995. Wildlife protection zones were established for motorists to slow down and help protect animals. Yosemite is open during the coronavirus pandemic, but only to guests who make reservations.


Kevin Vance created a program of folk music for KALW, A Patchwork Quilt, in October 1991. He grew up in Berkeley during the 1960s and '70s and spent his years learning in public schools, community colleges, bookstores, libraries, and non-commercial radio stations, as well as from the people around him. When he's not on the radio, then he's selling books, taking care of his family, listening to music, entering stuff into a computer, or taking a class.