Bay Area Headlines: Monday, 5/18/20, PM | KALW

Bay Area Headlines: Monday, 5/18/20, PM

May 18, 2020

Bay Area Enters Phase Two / Tesla Reopening Questioned

Bay Area Enters Phase Two

As of today, the entire Bay Area has entered a next phase in the coronavirus crisis. The state’s phase two include curbside retail as well as manufacturing with safety modifications. It also means more traffic on the streets, and more available parking spaces as cars move after weeks sitting in the same spots.

The coalition of six Bay Area counties had resisted following the state’s lead, because of factors related to population density. But as economic and political pressure mounted around the state, San Mateo, San Francisco, and Marin Counties decided to split off from the others. Over the weekend, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties joined them. And this morning, a joint statement from all six counties, including Santa Clara was released. It cited positive trends in Bay Area coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and testing to justify moving to the next stage, though it noted some healthcare settings still lack personal protective equipment. It also said:

“As we reopen certain sectors, Bay Area residents are still required by health order to stay home as much as possible, wear face coverings, and follow the precautions that have helped the region make progress to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Tesla Reopening Questioned

Protestors rallied outside of Tesla’s Fremont factory on Saturday. This comes after the electric car manufacturer reached a deal last week with Alameda County to keep operating.

The past week has been full of contentious posturing between Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk and public officials. At one point, Musk threatened to move the Fremont Factory to either Las Vegas or Texas. He also opened the plant last week in defiance of Alameda County’s shelter in place law and then dared the government to arrest him.

The deal reached with the county would allow Tesla’s 10,000 factory employees to legally return to work at the plant today. But protestors say they aren’t buying it. Steve Zeltzer is a spokesperson for United Public Workers for Action, a worker’s rights organization that helped organize the protest:

“If he is able to get away with this, which he’s doing, that says to every other employer, you can flout the laws, you don’t have to follow the laws.”

According to Alameda County Fremont police will be responsible for ensuring that Tesla workers have the protections they need to stay safe. Zeltzer says that doesn’t make sense. 

“What training and education do the Fremont police have about health and safety conditions? Are they trained to understand how workers need to be protectors from a pandemic? I don’t believe so and we don’t believe so.”

Tesla says that it has necessary safety measures in place, including temperature checks and policies for sick employees. With this most recent deal, Tesla has the support of the city, governor Newsom, and now the county to continue operating.