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Bay Area Headlines: Monday, 8/10/20, AM

Californians See Electricity Bills Rise / California Testing Data Backlogged

Californians are seeing their electricity bills rise as they’re forced to spend more time at home.  This comes amid the uncertainty and economic hardship caused by the pandemic.

CapRadio’s Scott Rodd actually gasped when he saw his electric bill the other day. Sure, it’s been scorching hot and he's been working from home, but it still caught him off-guard. Turns out, he was not the only one.

Mark Kewman hadn’t opened his PG&E bill and got a $434.72 bill for his two-bedroom apartment with one bathroom and a home office. He says that’s nearly $100 more than last July’s bill.

A PG&E spokesperson said the company expected customer bills to jump during the pandemic, due to people working from home and schools shifting to distance learning. The utility has halted shutting off power for non-payment during the pandemic and has encouraged low-income customers to apply for its reduced rate program. 

State lawmakers are debating a bill that would require companies to reimburse remote workers for some home utility costs.

California Testing Data Backlogged

California's Health and Human Services director says a technical glitch that caused a lag in collecting coronavirus test information has been fixed, but it could take up to 48 hours to get the data updated. Dr. Mark Gally says up to 300-thousand records might be backlogged:

“We don't yet know how many of those are positive or how many are negative. And in fact, this entire Cal Ready system excepts results not just for COVID but for other reportable diseases. So, all of those records are the total number of records that need to be sorted through.”

Despite the lag in numbers, Ghaly said officials believe overall COVID-19 trends remain consistent with positive cases inching lower. The glitch comes at a bad time for county health and education officials trying to decide whether to resume on-campus classes. 

The California Department of Public Health announced the state’s number of COVID-19 cases stood at 554,160 cases as of yesterday. The department says there have been more than 8.82 million tests conducted in California, an increase of nearly 118,600 over the prior 24-hour reporting period. The department says there have been just under 10,300 coronavirus deaths in California since the start of the pandemic.  

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.