Bay Area Headlines: Thursday, 4/16/20, PM | KALW

Bay Area Headlines: Thursday, 4/16/20, PM

Financial Relief For California Gig Workers / COVID-19 In Nursing Homes / Fremont Workers Required To Wear Face Coverings / San Francisco Bill To Protect Renters After Crisis

Financial Relief For California Gig Workers

California officials have announced their plan to provide financial relief to gig workers and undocumented immigrants.

Since the shutdown, 2.7 million Californians have applied for unemployment. And today, there’s good news if you are self-employed, or an independent contractor: The state is developing a one-stop website to make it easier to apply. 

The new site is set to open April 28 and will allow workers to get certified and receive payments within 48 hours.

There is also good news for undocumented people who are ineligible for unemployment benefits. California will be the first state to offer financial relief — $500 per person — to immigrants living here illegally. The state will rely on regional nonprofits to distribute the money. 

In his announcement Governor Newsom noted that undocumented immigrants contributed $2.5 billion in state and local taxes last year.

He also said, “We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportations that are still addressing essential needs of tens of millions of Californians.” 

COVID-19 In Nursing Homes

A California nursing home has 154 coronavirus cases, and eight residents have died, in an outbreak that’s prompted authorities to prepare to evacuate residents if adequate staffing can't be maintained.

Redwood Springs Healthcare Center in Visalia has 176 beds. It reports 106 residents and 48 staff members tested positive for the virus.

The outbreak is the latest of many at skilled nursing facilities, which are especially vulnerable to the virus because many residents are elderly with existing health conditions and they live in close proximity to each other.

Thirteen people have died in an outbreak that infected nearly 70 residents and staff at Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center in Hayward. The Alameda County district attorney has launched a criminal investigation into patient deaths at that facility, which in the past has been cited by state regulators for lacking sufficient staff.

Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom said the state would train and deploy 600 nurses to support compliance with COVID-19 guidance at the state’s skilled nursing and residential care facilities. There are nearly 8,700 such facilities in the state.

Fremont Workers Required To Wear Face Coverings

Fremont officials issued an executive order, today, requiring people to use face coverings at certain essential places of business to protect workers and the public. The places of business identified in the order include those where members of the public may still be visiting for essential services during the current shelter-in-place order. That includes food, laundry, delivery, and ride services among others.

Workers' face coverings must be provided by their employer and are not required to be medical-grade masks or N95 respirators, so cloth coverings, such as scarves and bandanas, are suitable. City officials said all customers and visitors of the identified businesses and organizations must also wear face coverings and may be refused admission or service if they fail to do so.

The new regulations are effective immediately and apply to people within the city of Fremont until the local emergency is declared over.

San Francisco Bill To Protect Renters After Crisis

San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston has proposed legislation to expand the city’s pandemic-related eviction ban. 

Currently, San Francisco renters can’t be evicted during the COVID-19 emergency. But if they can’t pay their landlords now, they could owe months of rent when the crisis lifts. And that could lead to eviction.

This week, Supervisor Preston introduced a bill that would change that: “Today we’re taking the next step, which is making sure that tenants, especially vulnerable, low-income tenants ... have the comfort of knowing that rent due during this COVID-19 crisis will not someday become grounds for eviction.”

Tenants would still owe the rent — they just couldn’t be evicted for failure to pay. The proposal would also prevent late fees and other charges from being added.

At a board meeting on Tuesday, Preston said he is supporting state and national efforts to cancel rent debt. But he doesn’t want to wait for statewide action to protect renters.