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Bay Area COVID-19 Roundup: South Bay Church Racks Up Huge Fines; Report Warns Of Looming California Eviction Crisis; Slow Vaccination Roll Out

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.

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

California Health Officials Warn of Slowing Vaccination Campaign
PLEASANT HILL -- Some top state health officials are saying it could take until June just to vaccinate people 65 and older in California, adding to the COVID-19 frustrations Bay Area health departments are currently facing. For anyone wondering how the vaccine rollout is going in Contra Costa County, they can now see for themselves. The county's new data page shows the plodding effort to increase the pace. As of Thursday, about 4,000 shots were being administered per day. Over in San Francisco, the situation looks less promising with even lower numbers. "I think if you drill down into each individual county, you will find challenges that may vary somewhat," infectious disease expert and Stanford Professor Dean Winslow told KPIX 5. Winslow also has a military background and still serves in the National Guard. He says the slow effort to get distribution moving -- like the construction of this site at City Collège in San Francisco today -- was predictable. 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

Alameda County Leaders, Health Officials Address Slow Vaccination Rollout at Virtual Meeting
OAKLAND -- The coronavirus vaccine rollout hasn't progressed as rapidly as hoped and Alameda County officials admit it may feel as if the county is moving at a slower rate than its neighbors. Thursday night, in an online town hall meeting, officials addressed concerns and provided some answers. According to public health officer Nicholas Moss, Alameda County is giving 2,000 first injections and 1,000 of the second doses daily but it still doesn't have enough to vaccinate all its health care workers. Many in the community are wondering when will it be their turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Moss says there are two reasons why the county has not been able to move to the next tier of vaccine distribution. One is the limited supply. The other is the unusually large population of health care workers. Alameda County is home to a many skilled-nursing facilities and has one of the highest number of hospital beds in the Bay Area. Read More

Stymied Claimants Call Out Identity Service Hired by EDD to Help Fight Fraud
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Employment Development Department recently notified 1.4 million benefit recipients their payments were suspended and flagged due to possible fraud. Now many are complaining about problems they've experienced when they attempt to get re-verified. As EDD works to weed out fraudulent and ineligible claims, the agency hired a private firm called in Oct. 2020 to help verify claimants' identities. But people say they are waiting sometimes as long as eight hours a day on to complete the process. The company confirmed these issues are a problem. Kerry Harvell lost his job working at a restaurant in Monterey County. He's among the 1.4 million EDD registered users who were asked to re-verify their identities. "There's no explanation. They just said you're in it and you have to do it," Harvell said. He emailed KPIX a screenshot showing a 5-hour wait time on Read More

North Bay Health Officials Ramp Up Vaccination Rollout Despite Shortages
SONOMA COUNTY -- Health officials in Sonoma and Marin counties on Thursday announced new steps being taken to distribute the COVID vaccine as quickly as possible, despite ongoing issues with the available supply of doses. A release issued by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors stated that the county's COVID-19 vaccination efforts were "kicking into high gear" with five vaccination clinics already in operation and two additional sites in the planning stage. According to the release, nearly 24,000 vaccinations have been administered in Sonoma County so far. Health officials in the region "will soon have capacity to vaccinate more than 2,000 people a day." Officials said that number doesn't include the vaccinations being administered at hospitals and through health care providers. "Most of all we need a community commitment to being patient as we distribute vaccines in the most equitable way possible, making sure that those most vulnerable and most at risk are vaccinated first," said Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chair Lynda Hopkins. "We are partnering with our health-care providers to distribute the vaccines as quickly as possible, but we are limited by how many vaccines we receive here in Sonoma County." Read More

Alameda County Deputies, Oakland Police Officers Call For Action In Distributing Vaccine To Personnel
OAKLAND -- Alameda County Sheriff's deputies and Oakland police officers called on county health officials to take action in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to law enforcement. In a joint statement, the Oakland Police Officers' Association and Deputy Sheriffs' Association of Alameda County said health officials have yet to announce a plan to vaccinate their 1,500 members. "More than 90 Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs' have tested positive for COVID-19, and one deputy has already died, but there is no plan to vaccinate these essential first responders," said Kevin Lewis, president of the sheriff's association. OPOA president Barry Donelan said at least 62 officers in the department have tested positive. "The very nature of the job means we can't work from home," Donelan said. "We are on the streets responding to calls for help.  Unfortunately, when we arrive at calls, we are first responders that have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, so neither our citizens nor first responders are protected from infection." Read More

Santa Rosa Jr. College Continuing Remote Instruction Through Summer 2021
SANTA ROSA -- Santa Rosa Junior College announced Thursday that most learning and student services would continue remotely through at least summer 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "While I do not make this decision lightly, it is clear to me that the current infection and mortality rates in Sonoma County are far too high to consider a full return to face-to-face instruction," school president Frank Chong said Thursday, one day after classes began for the Spring semester. The school president said he made the decision in consultation with the school's board of trustees, faculty, the chancellor of the California Community Colleges and Sonoma County's health officer. Chong also cited the experience of other colleges and universities that had a rise in cases after resuming in-person learning too early as a factor in his decision. Read More

San Mateo District Attorney Warns Of COVID-19 Vaccine Scams
SAN MATEO COUNTY -- The District Attorney's office in San Mateo County issued a warning to residents Thursday about scammers promising COVID-19 vaccines. "Unfortunately, scammers may try to exploit the uncertainty and anxiety associated with emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic to take people's money or steal their identities," District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said in a statement. Wagstaffe listed several signs of possible vaccination scams, including someone offering a spot in an earlier vaccination group or a spot on a waiting list for a fee. Scammers may also try to sell shots, either on the street or online, or even door-to-door. Residents should also watch out for texts, calls or emails about the vaccine that ask for personal information such as a Social Security, bank account or credit card number. Wagstaffe warned that those numbers or other personal information should not be shared. The District Attorney said residents should also watch out for ads for fake vaccines or "miracle cures" for COVID-19 using vitamins or other dietary supplements. Read More

Other Trending COVID-19 Trending Stories

Former Gov. Schwarzenegger Gets Dose, Says 'Come With Me If You Want To Live!'
LOS ANGELES -- Former California Governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger reprised a couple famous lines of dialog before and after receiving a dose of the COVID vaccine Wednesday. The former governor posted video on his Twitter account that showed him receiving the shot at the Dodgers Stadium vaccination site in Los Angeles. He actually touched on a couple of moments from his film career in the brief video. "Put that needle down!" he jokingly said as received the shot, referring to another famous line from the Christmas movie "Jingle All the Way" when he tells Phil Hartman's character, "Put that cookie down, NOW!" After thanking the woman who administered the shot, Schwarzenegger addressed the camera directly and delivered one of his famous bits from "Terminator 2: Judgement Day." Read More

Bay Area Doctors Hopeful For Urgent Action On Pandemic From Biden Administration
SAN FRANCISCO -- Action on the COVID-19 pandemic from President Joe Biden can't come soon enough for Bay Area doctors, as California faces issues with its vaccine rollout and a new threat from a variant of the coronavirus.Hours after his inauguration at the U.S. Capitol, Mr. Biden signed a series of executive orders, including three concerning the pandemic. Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at UCSF, is thrilled. "I think an alignment of science and politics is one huge thing that we are looking forward to, because we should all be speaking the same message. And we often haven't in the last few months," he told KPIX 5 via Zoom on Inauguration Day. Dr. Monica Gandhi, also from UCSF, said it's a breath of fresh air to have the science of the pandemic accepted by the new administration. "It feels like you've been yelling into the wind, and suddenly the wind stopped and you're speaking calmly and it's all being heard," she said. Read More

CDPH Says Moderna Batch Under Scrutiny Safe, 'No Scientific Basis' To Pause Distribution
SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) –--ID-19 vaccine that faced scrutiny over reports of allergic reactions. In a statement Wednesday night, state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said providers can resume distribution of doses from lot 41L20A. Pan said a review of the evidence by health experts, regulators, the FDA and CDC, along with the manufacturer "found no scientific basis to continue the pause." CDPH ordered the pause after seven people who received their shots at a vaccination clinic in San Diego County reported adverse reactions. In response, health officials in the Bay Area and across California held back doses from the batch in question, or notified patients who were given the doses. Read More

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