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Bay Area COVID-19 Roundup: Larry King Dies While Battling Virus; State COVID Jobless Rate Soaring; San Mateo County Sues Yoga Studio

CBS San Francisco Staff Report

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- With a surge in coronavirus cases, the information you need to know is coming fast and furious. Here's a roundup of the COVID stories we've published over the last 24 hours.

Celebrated Talk Show Host Larry King Dies While Battling COVID-19
LOS ANGELES -- Legendary talk show host Larry King, who has been hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, after falling victim to COVID-19 has died. He was 87. King died in Saturday Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted. While no cause of death was given, Ora Media spokesman David Theall told the Associated Press on Jan. 4th that King was suffering from COVID-19, had been moved into the ICU on New Year's Eve and was receiving oxygen. A longtime nationally syndicated radio host, from 1985 through 2010 he was a nightly fixture on CNN, where he won many honors, including two Peabody awards. With his celebrity interviews, political debates and topical discussions, King wasn't just an enduring on-air personality. He also set himself apart with the curiosity be brought to every interview, whether questioning the assault victim known as the "Central Park Jogger" or billionaire industrialist Ross Perot, who in 1992 rocked the presidential contest by announcing his candidacy on King's show. Read More

California Ranks Last Among States In Percentage Of Vaccines Administered
SAN FRANCISCO -- California, once hailed as a model for combating the COVID pandemic before the virus surge made it one of the worst states in terms of new cases and deaths, now ranks last in COVID vaccinations. The Bloomberg COVID vaccine tracker shows California last in percentage of vaccines administered, with only 37% of the vaccines distributed being injected. While California has administered more than 1.6 million vaccines - the most of all states - it has received about 4.4 million doses, according to the tracker. In comparison, other states with large populations such as New York and Texas, which rank 10th and 12th on the list, respectively, have administered more than 56% of vaccines delivered. The top jurisdictions in getting vaccines into arms are North Dakota (83% of shots used), District of Columbia (73%), West Virginia (73%), New Mexico (69%), and South Dakota (66%). Read More

Mass Vaccination Site Opens At City College Of San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO -- Officials in San Francisco announced Friday the opening of the city's first mass vaccination site at City College, as communities ramp up distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, the site is appointment only and is following state prioritization criteria on who receives the vaccine. The site, which is operated in partnership with UCSF Health, will eventually have the capacity to vaccinate more than 3,000 people per day once fully operational "Large vaccination sites like this one at City College are going to be critical for getting people vaccinated quickly and safely, and getting our City on the road to recovery," Mayor London Breed said in a statement. Patients were lined up in their vehicles outside the site at sunrise, ahead of the opening at 8 a.m. Larry Darcy, 80, was ready. "It's a privilege to be here," Darcy told KPIX 5. Read More

Some Bay Area Communities See Hopeful COVID-19 Decline
SAN FRANCISCO -- An ebullient Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, announced good news about the rate of COVID-19 transmission in the city Friday. Speaking from a new mass vaccination site at City College, Dr. Colfax elaborated. "Our reproductive rate -- the measure of how fast the virus is propagating through the community -- is below one. So that means it is slowing. It's just barely below one -- it's an estimate -- but things are heading in the right direction for right now." While Mayor London Breed indicated in a tweet that things could begin reopening soon, the city's fate is tied to the wider Bay Area region. Across the border in San Mateo County, only three ICU beds remained open Friday night. Supervisor David Canepa is urging caution. "I think what we try to do as policy makers, we try to celebrate — we celebrate that we're making progress but the virus humbles us every time," he said. Read More

California's Increasing Jobless Numbers Reflect Pandemic-Stricken Restaurant, Hotel Workers
SACRAMENTO -- California's unemployment rate edged up nearly 1 percentage point last month as the state shed more than 52,000 jobs led by the pandemic-hobbled restaurant and lodging industries. The Employment Development Department reported Friday that the jobless rate stands at 9% for December, the state's first monthly rate increase since April. The leisure and hospitality sector took the biggest hit. California had gained 5,200 jobs in November before giving back 10 times that number last month. It has recouped 44% of the 2.6 million nonfarm jobs lost at the start of the pandemic in March and April compared with 55.6% nationwide. Read More

San Mateo County Sues Yoga Studio For Ignoring State Health Orders, Win Restraining Order
REDWOOD CITY -- San Mateo County sued a local yoga studio last week over its refusal to comply with state public health orders issued to decrease the spread of COVID-19. On Friday, a judge granted the county a restraining order against the studio, closing it temporarily. The county filed its suit against Pacific Beach Yoga last Wednesday for defying state orders that all indoor gyms, fitness centers and yoga studios should be shut down until the state deems the coronavirus under control enough to reopen. Instead, Pacific Beach Yoga held "mask-free" yoga classes and repeatedly ignored requests to close down from county staff. "This business has left us no choice," said San Mateo County Counsel John Beiers. "Pacifica Beach Yoga has repeatedly, knowingly and flagrantly decided not to follow the rules that other businesses in this county are following. That is dangerous and cannot be allowed to continue." Read More

Contra Costa Aims To Distribute 1 Million Doses By Fourth Of July
MARTINEZ -- Contra Costa County officials announced their goal Friday to distribute 1 million coronavirus vaccine doses by the Fourth of July. More than 65,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the county since Dec. 15, according to county Supervisor Diane Burgis. On average, 5,800 doses are being administered per day. However, the county is only receiving around 12,000 doses per week that are quickly distributed to county-run vaccination sites as well as county partners like pharmacies at Safeway and Rite Aid stores. "We really need everyone, that includes the state and federal government, to do their part," county Health Officer and Contra Costa Health Services director Anna Roth said Friday during a briefing to announce the distribution goal. Read More

California COVID Projection Models To Determine ICU Capacity, Stay-At-Home Orders Not Shared With Public
SACRAMENTO -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom has from the start said his coronavirus policy decisions would be driven by data shared with the public to provide maximum transparency. But with the state starting to emerge from its worst surge, his administration won't disclose key information that will help determine when his latest stay-at-home order is lifted. State health officials said they rely on a very complex set of measurements that would confuse and potentially mislead the public if they were made public. Dr. Lee Riley, chairman of the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health infectious disease division, disagreed. "There is more uncertainty created by NOT releasing the data that only the state has access to," he said in an email. Its release would allow outside experts to assess its value for projecting trends and the resulting decisions on lifting restrictions, he wrote. Read More

Other COVID-19 Trending Stories

Can You Be Fired For Refusing COVID Vaccine If Your Employer Requires It?
MINNEAPOLIS -- As the COVID vaccine rollout continues across the country, employees are wondering whether the company they work for can make the vaccine a requirement. Morgan Kruse works for a health care company in the Twin Cities. While she gets her flu shot every year, she's unsure about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. "I'm not anti-vaccine, I'm just not going to jump on the opportunity when it's my turn to get it," she said. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does allow companies to mandate the flu and other vaccines, and has indicated they could also make the COVID-19 vaccines a requirement for employees. "Most employees in the U.S. are at-will employees, which means employers are free to set the conditions of employment and hire and fire at will," University of Minnesota law professor Jill Hasday said. Hasday says employees who have a disability or a religious reason could be exempt from a vaccine mandate. Read More

South Bay Church Racks Up Huge Fines Defying County COVID Orders
SAN JOSE -- Mike McClure, lead pastor of Calvary Chapel San Jose, was greeted by a large and largely mask-less group of supporters when he emerged from a contempt of court hearing Thursday. "I wanted to thank everyone for being here today. Honestly, all we're trying to do is minister to our community like we've always done. It's sad that the state is battling the church and the church is battling the state," McClure said. Leaders of Calvary Chapel San Jose are locked in a protracted and costly legal battle with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. Pastor McClure says the county's health order banning large, indoor worship services violates his religious freedom."What made American great was our trust in God and I still think this is a great nation," Pastor McClure told his supporters and members of the media gathered outside the courthouse. A restraining order was slapped on the church where Sunday services have often attracted parishioners in the hundreds with few wearing masks. The judge found the church in contempt of court back in November for repeated violations of that restraining order. Read More

Report Warns Of Looming California Eviction Crisis; 1.1M Households Behind On Rent
SAN FRANCISCO -- Roughly 20 percent of renter households in California are behind on rent payments, with low-income residents and people of color being hardest hit, according to new research by the Bay Area Equity Atlas. Since last March, when the COVID-19 pandemic began to surge across the country and local and state governments implemented stay-at-home measures in an attempt to slow its spread, about 1.1 million California households have fallen behind on rent, according to the report released Thursday. During that time, average estimated rent debt per renter household ballooned to $3,400 and the total rent debt across the state stands at about $3.7 billion, according to "The Coming Wave: COVID-19 Evictions," which tracks county- and state-level data "There's a policy debate happening right now about what do we do to prevent an eviction tsunami in California and its critical to know the extent of the challenge to properly address that potential humanitarian crisis," said Sarah Treuhaft, vice president of research at PolicyLink, which manages the Bay Area Equity Atlas in partnership with the USC Equity Research Institute and the San Francisco Foundation. Read More

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