Bay Area Headlines: Monday, 5/4/20, PM | KALW

Bay Area Headlines: Monday, 5/4/20, PM

California To Move Into Second Phase Of Reopening / California Restaurant Association Estimates Half Of State's Bars And Restaurants Will Not Reopen / California Hospital Association Requests $1 Billion In Aid / Fire Experts Predict Severe Season With Early Start

California To Move Into Second Phase Of Reopening

Governor Gavin Newsom says the state will move into the second phase of his reopening plan as early as Friday. That means allowing lower-risk workplaces to resume operations with modifications to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The plan, outlined today at Newsom’s noon press conference, includes a range of retailers that would be permitted to reopen, including clothing stores, sporting goods, and florists. It did not immediately include dine-in eating at restaurants and reopening of offices, which were in previously stated Phase 2 plans. Newsom says a key consideration for entering Phase 2 is the ability for regional health authorities to test and conduct contact tracing of infections.

California Restaurant Association Estimates Half Of State's Bars And Restaurants Will Not Reopen

With so many bars and restaurants suffering during this time, the California Restaurant Association estimates that maybe half will not reopen. But a group is raising funds to save San Francisco’s queer nightlife. 

Some San Francisco gay bars and clubs were already struggling to survive before the pandemic because of high rents. Now, the COVID-19 crisis has made things even harder. But a group of LGBTQ activists is raising money to support workers in the gay nightclub scene. They started the SF Queer Nightlife Fund and have hosted online events to get donations. So far, the group has raised approximately $160 thousand. Those who are eligible to apply for funds include bartenders, DJs, drag performers, and night club event planners. 

Organizers of the fund say with both the Gay Pride and the Folsom Street Fair cancelled this year, a second round of fundraising will start soon. 
 

California Hospital Association Requests $1 Billion In Aid

California hospitals say they have suffered as much as $14 billion in losses by postponing elective surgeries and other procedures to clear space in anticipation of a flood of coronavirus patients that never occurred. The California Hospital Association on Monday asked state lawmakers to immediately approve $1 billion in financial aid. The request came as California expects to exhaust its record budget reserves and cut programs to pay for its extraordinary response to the pandemic. The head of the California Medical Association says medical practices have lost more than half their revenue, and as many as 15 percent of practices could close their doors.

Fire Experts Predict Severe Season With Early Start

Fire season may start earlier this year in Northern California. And fire experts predict it’s also likely to be especially severe. 

Several factors are contributing to the concerning wildfire season predictions by the National Interagency Fire Center. First, California is firmly in drought territory. Last month was drier than usual, and experts expect that to continue through August. The drought has caused the snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas to be unusually small — about 60 percent of normal. California gets much of its water from this snowpack. With May looking to be warmer this year, climatologists expect the snowpack to be completely gone by June, which is several weeks early.

Another factor? High pressure is building in the west and will likely replace the familiar May and June gloom with drier conditions. That’s allowing brush and undergrowth to dry out faster than normal, leaving lots of fuel for fire season. 

Scientists say that over the past decade, fire seasons have been trending earlier and lasting longer, and this year is no exception.