Bay Area Headlines: Thursday, 5/7/20, AM | KALW

Bay Area Headlines: Thursday, 5/7/20, AM

May 7, 2020

Workers' Comp Expanded / East Oakland Testing Site Opens / The Future Of Air Quality

Workers' Comp Expanded

California will expand workers’ compensation to people across a range of industries if they have contracted COVID-19. Eligible workers include those on the front lines of the coronavirus response, such as nurses and doctors. Governor Gavin Newsom says it also covers those who have continued to work through the pandemic, including grocery store clerks and farmers.
 
“This is a way of providing support to our critical workers that are essential in our capacity not only to meet the needs of people today, but as we begin to enter into this new phase and start to reopen our economy.”
 
The benefits will be retroactive. If a worker reported for a shift as early as March 19th and contracted the virus, they are eligible. The benefits are also available to workers who test positive in the next 60 days.

East Oakland Testing Site Opens

A new COVID-19 test site opened in East Oakland, yesterday. The new drive by clinic is located at the Roots Community Health Center in the deep east. There are currently 30 test sites in Alameda County, but until now they have been exclusive to first responders, insurance networks, or the homeless population. This is the first site in Alameda County open to anyone who wants to be tested, and it’s free.

The clinic is the result of a partnership between Roots, the City of Oakland and the nonprofit CORE—Community Organized Relief Effort. They plan to open a second site soon in East Oakland. The drive by clinic uses Verily, a platform created by Google’s parent company. Anyone who wants to be tested can make an account, schedule a free appointment, and bring their ID. Established Roots patients can simply walk up and be tested.

According to local news site Berkelyside, Roots’ CEO says that East Oakland communities can feel distrustful of institutions, but in the last 12 years Roots has become very trusted in the community. The clinic is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 10am to 4pm, at the Roots Community Health Center on International Boulevard.

The Future Of Air Quality

Californians are breathing cleaner air due to the stay-at-home orders, but it could go away as fast as it cleared up. Californians are driving about 75 percent fewer miles since before the pandemic began, says Fraser Shilling. He’s the director of the UC Davis Road Ecology Center. If this keeps up for a year, he says, it would achieve half of the state’s 2050 goal. That plan is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels. 
 
“It's painful to do this to drive less and have less economic activity. But when we drive less, and when we work at home, we can start to meet these climate change goals.”
 
Yifang Zhu is part of a group of UCLA researchers that want California to reduce human-caused emissions to zero by 2050.
 
“California since it's been a leader, we think there is a room for California to achieve that goal ahead of the game.”
 
Their models show that by 2050 the savings from curbing emissions will exceed the cost by more than 100 billion dollars. And Zhu says the plan could result in 14-thousand fewer deaths annually from air pollution related illnesses.