Another California county issues stricter stay-at-home orders
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Dennis Romero

6h ago / 1:45 AM UTC

Public health officials in Santa Clara County, California, home to Silicon Valley, followed San Francisco and Los Angeles on Saturday in announcing stricter stay-at-home rules as the number of coronavirus patients continues to rise nationwide.

County health officials also reported a record 760 new Covid-19 cases and 239 hospitalizations.

The new restriction set to begin Monday include a ban on professional, collegiate and youth sports and a 200-person limit on outdoor gatherings. Indoor retailers will be allowed to operate at 10 percent of normal capacity and grocery stores, drugstores and pharmacies at 25 percent.

The NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, which plays at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, said in a statement: “We are aware of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department’s emergency directive. We are working with the NFL and our partners on operational plans and will share details as they are confirmed.”

The county also said travelers from more than 150 miles away would have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Dennis Romero

8h ago / 11:36 PM UTC

San Francisco imposes new stay-at-home orders

In a little more than a month’s time the city of San Francisco went from being among the state’s best-performing communities when it comes to Covid-19 cases to yet another city constrained by California’s strictest stay-at-home rules.

The office of Mayor London Breed on Saturday announced that limited stay-at-home orders would go into effect as the city has been placed in California’s most-restrictive purple tier as a result of a high rate of coronavirus cases.

In late October the city was placed in the yellow tier, which comes with the lightest limits. There are four tiers, each with a varying level of restriction.

“While the number of cases is increasing significantly, the people of San Francisco have shown they can take action and follow the guidance to get us through this pandemic,” Breed said in a statement Saturday.

The city reports an average of 130 new cases a day, which compares with 73 in the first week of November.

The new restrictions, most scheduled to go into effect at noon Sunday, include the full closure of indoor portions of places of worship, movie theaters, gyms, museums, aquariums, and zoos. Retail stores must limit capacity to 25 percent.

Unlike in Los Angeles County, where restaurants are now limited to delivery and takeout, San Francisco officials said they’d allow restaurants to host outdoor diners.

Health officials in the state’s largest cities—Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco—have now all imposed the strictest stay-at-home measures since spring in response to the national case surge.

Zach Haberman

9h ago / 10:29 PM UTC

Biden’s transition coronavirus team adds three members

President-elect Biden on Saturday announced the addition of three new Covid-19 advisory board members who he believes will help in the development of “a robust and aggressive response to contain the virus.” 

The new members include a Jane Hopkins, mental health expert, David Michaels, an epidemiologist, and Jill Jim, director of Navajo Nation’s department of health. 

“As COVID-19 surges across the country, I need a team advising me and a transition that offers diverse perspectives and viewpoints,” said Biden in a statement. 

Below are the bios for the three: 

Jane Hopkins, RNMH: A trained as a nurse in England, specializing in mental health. Hopkins worked for over 20 years as a bedside nurse, most recently at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and Snoqualmie Hospital. Hopkins was a bargaining team member before becoming an organizer, and later Executive Vice President, with SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. Hopkins serves on Washington State’s COVID task force and Safe Start Advisory Board, the Washington Workforce Board, and the boards of the 1199NW Training Fund and the Washington State Labor Council. She received the Black Lives Matter Award from the SEIU Washington State AFRAM Caucus. Born in Sierra Leone, Hopkins immigrated to the U.S. in 2000.

Jill Jim, PhD, MPH, MPA: An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and the Executive Director at Navajo Nation Department of Health. Her career has focused on preventing chronic diseases and addressing healthcare and health disparities among American Indians/Alaska Natives. For 18 years, she has served urban and tribal communities in non-profit, state, federal agencies and most recently tribal government, serving as a cabinet member for the Navajo Nation Nez-Lizer Administration. Her leadership has been essential to the COVID-19 response on the Navajo Nation, as the Navajo Department of Health is authorized to respond to the declared public health emergency. 

David Michaels, PhD, MPH: An epidemiologist and Professor of Environmental andOccupational Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University. He served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health from 2009 to January 2017, the longest serving administrator in OSHA’s history. During the Clinton Administration, Dr. Michaels served as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety, and Health, charged with protecting the workers, community, and environment around the nation’s nuclear weapons facilities. Much of his research focuses on protecting the integrity of the science underpinning public health, safety, and environmental protections.

The Associated Press

11h ago / 9:12 PM UTC

NBA announces new coronavirus protocols ahead of new season

NBA players who test positive for the coronavirus this season may have to miss nearly two weeks in some instances before being allowed to return to the court, the league told its teams Saturday.

That revelation was one of many in a 63,000-word document, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, that explained some of the heath and safety protocols for the looming season. Preseason games begin Dec. 11 and regular-season contests start Dec. 22.

The document still needs to be ratified by the league and the National Basketball Players Association, but at least provides some sort of blueprint for the start of training camps in the coming days. All players who will be part of training camp need to begin a testing program by Monday — many were expected to start it Saturday — and teams can begin holding mandated group workouts sometime between Dec. 4 and Dec. 6.

Players, coaches and other key staff are expected to be tested daily in most cases.

The league, in a separate memo, also told teams that even with the detailed prevention and mitigation strategies “it is likely that some staff, players and other participants in the 2020-21 season nonetheless will contract COVID-19.” The league urged teams to have plans ready to assist visiting team personnel or referees who happen to test positive away from their home cities, such as directing them toward isolation accommodations if necessary and to assist with that person’s care while recovering.

Gabe Gutierrez

11h ago / 8:58 PM UTC

Pfizer’s first Covid-19 vaccine doses flown to U.S.

The first doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine are on the move.

A source familiar with the planning tells NBC News that United Airlines has already flown its first doses of the vaccine on a chartered plane from Belgium. The flight was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Pfizer is developing the vaccine with German partner BioNTech. The pharmaceutical has said it has vaccine production facilities in Puurs, Belgium; St. Louis, Missouri; Andover, Maryland; and Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Pfizer has already applied for emergency use authorization, and its vaccine will be distributed upon federal approval.

United wouldn’t confirm details, but in a written statement said it will “support a vaccine distribution effort on a global scale.”

In a separate statement, the Federal Aviation Administration said it was “supporting the first mass air shipment of a vaccine.”

A source familiar with the process told NBC News the FAA is allowing United to carry 15,000 pounds of dry ice per flight — five times more than is usually permitted — to keep the doses sufficiently cold.

Reuters

18h ago / 1:46 PM UTC

Queues at barber shops as France eases coronavirus lockdown

Hairdresser Benjamin Tandre colors his first client’s hair after re-opening, as restrictions for ‘non-essential’ shops and businesses were lifted on Saturday.Kiran Ridley / Getty Images

People eager to get a haircut stood in line outside barber shops and department stores selling gifts and Christmas decorations were busy on Saturday as France partially reopened following a month-long lockdown.

Shops selling non-essential goods such as shoes, clothes and toys reopened in the first easing of a nationwide lockdown that started on Oct. 30 and will remain in place until Dec. 15. Bars and restaurants remain closed till Jan. 20,

“Today we have people who had been waiting for weeks while others are coming now so they can look good for Christmas, as one never know what happens next,” Remi Thor, a barber in central Paris, told Reuters.

Patrick Smith

19h ago / 1:16 PM UTC

London police tell anti-lockdown protesters to stay home

Police officers take away a protester ahead of an anti-lockdown protest against government restrictions in London on Saturday.TOLGA AKMEN / AFP – Getty Images

Police in London have warned thousands planning to attend an anti-lockdown protest in the city that the gathering will be unlawful due to national coronavirus restrictions.

The United Kingdom, which has recorded 1.5 million Covid-19 cases and more than 57,000 related deaths, is on a month-long lockdown until Dec. 2 when a system of regional restrictions comes into force.

“The Met has a proud history of facilitating protest. However, our city is in a critical fight against Covid-19 and we cannot allow gatherings to jeopardize the progress and sacrifices our communities have made in fighting this virus,” Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell said in a statement.

Phil McCausland

19h ago / 12:37 PM UTC

‘A big safety net’: Affordable Care Act filled need, fended off dismantling in 2020

Since March, more than 250,000 people infected by the coronavirus have died and millions more have lost their health insurance in the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

During the presidential campaign, both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden promised much to address these health and economic issues, sparring on how best to provide Americans access to health care.

Central to both of their arguments remained a decade-old law: the Affordable Care Act — landmark health care legislation that showed its continued significance during this particularly difficult year.

Read the full article here

The Associated Press

19h ago / 12:37 PM UTC

Europe’s Christmas dilemma: risk empty chairs next year?

BRUSSELS — Please leave a chair empty at this year’s family Christmas dinner as a precaution, or face the possibility of having that chair empty forever.

That’s the stark dilemma Belgium’s prime minister has set to urge smaller festive family gatherings, as Europeans battle with containing the surging COVID-19 pandemic over the holiday season.

Read the full article here.

NBC News

19h ago / 12:37 PM UTC

NFL orders all facilities to close next Monday and Tuesday

In anticipation of the expected spike in COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving weekend, the NFL has issued a mandate for next week: All facilities will close on Monday and Tuesday.

“In response to the continuous increase in positivity rates throughout the country, as well as our understanding that a number of players and staff celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with out-of-town guests, all in-person team activities on Monday, November 30 and Tuesday, December 1 will be prohibited,” Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote to all teams in a Friday memo, a copy of which PFT has obtained.

Read the full article here. 

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