The Chronicle began covering the coronavirus crisis before the first cases were reported in the Bay Area and a pandemic was declared in 2020. We reorganized the newsroom to dedicate nearly every resource to stories focusing on the health and economic disasters. Every day we have published live updates to reflect the most critical local, national and global updates on COVID-19, and this news is free of charge in an effort to keep our community safe and informed.
Read the previous updates from Nov. 27-Dec.3
Read the full timeline:
Updates from Wednesday, Dec. 9:
6:17 p.m. New coronavirus cases in California exceed 30,000 for third straight day: Numbers are still pouring in from California’s 58 counties, but already the daily number of new cases Wednesday has reached 31,693 with more counties left to report. On Tuesday, the total was 35,400, and on Monday it was 34,490. Prior to this week, the highest daily count in the state came on Friday, with 22,369 cases. Also, on Wednesday, the Bay Area’s daily coronavirus case count exceeded 4,000 for the first time.
5:40 p.m. LA County health director chokes up during coronavirus briefing: Health Director Barbara Ferrer fought back tears as she ran through the latest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the county during a press briefing on Wednesday. “The terrible truth is that over 8,000 who were beloved members of their families are not coming back,” she said. “Their deaths are an incalculable loss to their friends and their family, as well as our community.” There were 9,243 new cases and 75 new deaths recorded in LA County on Wednesday, according to health department data, bringing the tally of total deaths to 8,075.
5 p.m. Mystery illness hospitalizes hundreds in India: A mysterious illness unrelated to COVID-19 has left over 500 people hospitalized and one person dead in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. First detected Saturday, it causes people to start convulsing without any warning, said Geeta Prasadini, the director of public health. Symptoms ranging from nausea and anxiety to loss of consciousness have been reported in 546 patients admitted to hospitals, according to the Associated Press. Recalling the early days of the coronavirus, experts are confounded because there doesn’t seem to be any common link among the hundreds of people who have fallen sick.
4:32 p.m. How Bay Area hospitals are coping with a surge of ICU patients and nursing shortages: Daily admissions to Bay Area intensive care units have more than doubled since last month, and nurses are alarmed at the state’s plan to offer a two-day training program for critical care to bolster staffing. Here’s what hospitals are doing behind the scenes to handle the surge. Read the story here.
3:39 p.m. U.S. death toll rises above 288,000: More than 288,000 people in the United States now have lost their lives to COVID-19, as of tracking Wednesday afternoon from Johns Hopkins University. The death toll in California stood at 20,315 Tuesday, and in the Bay Area the pandemic has claimed 2,059 lives.
3:26 p.m. California shirks duty to track LGBTQ virus cases: California is largely ignoring a new law requiring county health officers and providers to track the toll of the coronavirus pandemic among LGBTQ people, advocates say. The law took effect when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it in September. But the state has yet to enforce the mandate consistently or report any COVID-19 data among LGBTQ people. Read The Chronicle’s story here.
3:18 p.m. Marin County joins Bay Area in purple tier: Marin County now has dropped into the most restrictive category in the state’s reopening blueprint, joining the rest of the Bay Area, and almost all of the state, in creating a sea-of-purple map. Marin was the last Bay Area holdout still in the less-restrictive red category, but county officials had signalled they expected the setback as coronavirus cases mounted. They joined a handful of other Bay Area counties this week in voluntarily imposing more restrictions on activities, in line with California’s new stay-home order.
3:07 p.m. Large counties to share 1st vaccine allocations with small neighbors: Larger California counties, including Santa Clara County, have been directed to share a portion of their first allocations of coronavirus vaccines with smaller counties, said the county public health office’s Dr. Marty Fenstersheib. Santa Clara County will provide 230 doses to San Benito County from the 17,550 doses Santa Clara is slated to receive in the first round of Pfizer vaccine shipments next week.
2:59 p.m. Tahoe shuts down: Vacation travel to Lake Tahoe will be banned for at least three weeks starting Friday due to a regional increase in intensive care COVID-19 patients. The state’s stay-at-home mechanism was triggered Wednesday afternoon for a vast region of 13 counties spanning from Sacramento east to the Nevada border. Read the story here.
2:54 p.m. California to get 637,000 doses of Moderna vaccine: California has been allocated 673,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna, Dr. Marty Fenstersheib of Santa Clara County’s public health department said Wednesday. The Moderna doses are expected to arrive around Dec. 21-27, after the 327,000 doses Pfizer vaccine the state is slated to receive around Dec. 14-20. Both are awaiting FDA approval, Pfizer’s as soon as Thursday, and Moderna’s as soon as Dec. 17. Santa Clara County learned Tuesday it will receive 39,300 Moderna doses, Fenstersheib told a county health and hospital committee meeting.
2:45 p.m. Newspaper reporters ask for vaccine priority: The California Newspaper Publishers Association is requesting that the state’s Community Vaccine Advisory Committee give vaccine priority to newspaper reporters. That would put journalists in line behind health care workers and nursing home residents. “Those who gather the news, and those responsible for publishing and printing the news, should be vaccinated as soon as possible … to ensure that Californians can continue to have the news delivered to their doorstep,” Brittney Barsotti, CNPA attorney, said in a statement published by Variety.
2:31 p.m. San Francisco warns that hundreds will die if guidelines ignored: Another 500 San Francisco residents could die of COVID-19 over the next few months if people continue to disregard public health advice and the virus keeps spreading widely, public health officials said. Read the whole story here.
2:30 p.m. Masking, distancing still key, even as vaccine rollout begins: At least 70% of the population would need to get vaccinated to reach herd immunity and ease the need for masking, physical distancing and other protective measures against coronavirus spread, Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said Wednesday. “It’s going to take us quite some time to reach herd immunity,” Cody told a county health and hospital committee meeting. “We’ll be able to vaccinate a tiny portion of one priority group to start, which means all the prevention measures we’re doing need to stay firmly in place as this vaccine rolls out.”
2:10 p.m. Anti-mask protests turn ugly: Sacramento County health officials had to suspend a meeting Tuesday after more than two dozen protesters pounded on the chamber doors during a debate over whether to strengthen enforcement against businesses that violate virus restrictions. Arguments over mask requirements and other restrictions are turning ugly across the nation as the deadly coronavirus engulfs small and medium-size cities, the Associated Press reports.
1:55 p.m. Stimulus talks hung up again as clock ticks: Democratic leaders are rejecting a GOP $916 billion proposal for a coronavirus relief package, and momentum appeared to stall Wednesday amid differences not only between the parties, but between Senate Republicans and the White House over what should be included. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democratic leaders of tactics blocking progress, casting doubt on reaching a deal this week, the Hill reports.
1:43 p.m. Just skip holiday gatherings, S.F. officials beg: Mayor London Breed and Dr. Grant Colfax, the city’s top health official, asked San Francisco residents to rethink their holiday gatherings this year, in light of surging coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. “Please don’t have those holiday dinners with members outside your household,” Colfax said. “Even if they are close friends. Even if they are family members. If they don’t live in your immediate household, don’t do it this year.” COVID-19 cases in San Francisco have quadrupled over the last month, city data shows.
1:39 p.m. Stocks fall from record highs: Tech stocks dragged down markets Wednesday, despite DoorDash closing up 85% on its first day of trading. Salesforce fell 3.2% and Apple was down more than 2%. Facebook declined 1.9% after the Federal Trade Commission and 46 states, Guam and the District of Columbia filed suits that could force the Menlo Park company to sell Instagram and WhatsApp. The Dow shed 105 points, or 0.35%, to close at 30,068.81. The Nasdaq was down 1.9% and the S&P 500 fell 0.8%.
1:35 P.M. One of the pandemic winners: DoorDash, which reaped huge benefits from the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders as homebound consumers ordered hot food brought to their doorsteps, saw its shares skyrocket 80% in its initial public offering Wednesday. The San Francisco company, the country’s largest restaurant-delivery service, had priced shares at $102, but they began trading at $182 per share. Read the story here.
1:23 p.m. S.F. to get 12,000 doses of vaccine by Dec. 15: Dr. Grant Colfax, the city’s top health official, said San Francisco expects its first allocation of 12,000 vaccine doses to arrive by Dec. 15. Per state guidelines, priority will be given to hospitals and nursing homes. “Widespread distribution could be underway by next spring or summer,” Colfax said Wednesday.
1:14 p.m. Sacramento region falls below ICU threshold: The greater Sacramento region must impose stricter coronavirus restrictions, as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday, after its hospital intensive-care capacity dropped to 14.3% — below the 15% threshold that triggers the state’s new crack-down order, state health officials announced Wednesday. Data unveiled Wednesday show that the San Joaquin Valley, which already had fallen beneath the threshold, now has dropped to an even more dangerous ICU level, with just 4.2% of ICU beds available. Southern California, also already under the stricter rules, had 9% capacity, the Bay Area region 20.9%, and Northern California 27.1%. Gov. Gavin Newsom has predicted the Bay Area will drop to 15% by mid- to late December. An earlier version of this item contained a typo and provided an incorrect number for the San Joaquin Valley region’s available ICU capacity. The correct figure is 4.2%.
1 p.m. S.F. expects to fill up intensive care beds by Dec. 27: Mayor London Breed said Wednesday that San Francisco is experiencing its worst surge of new cases and hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic. She said that it will require residents to make sacrifices over the coming weeks, including curbing holiday activities. “I know as a city, we will roll up our sleeves,” Breed said. “We will do everything we can to get through this.” During the briefing, Dr. Grant Colfax, the city’s top health official, forecast that San Francisco will run out of intensive care unit beds by Dec. 27.
12:30 p.m. Small group of Americans engage in risky, virus-spreading behavior: While almost three-quarters of Americans are staying close to home and adhering to coronavirus public health measures, a small population subset engages in the kind of risky behavior away from their home indoor environments that spreads the coronavirus, according to new poll from Axios-Ipsos released Wednesday. This group, also prone to eschew masks and social distancing, are the main driver of transmission, according to public health officials. They spend significant time in restaurants, bars, entertainment centers, other people’s homes, gyms, or places of worship, the study found. Fewer than half (44%) report always wearing a mask and just over a third are concerned about the coronavirus pandemic. They are more likely to be under 55, male and Republican.
12:15 p.m. Student infected from more than 20 feet away: A high school student was infected with the coronavirus after five minutes of exposure from more than 20 feet away, according to a South Korean study. The study results, published last week in the Journal of Korean Medical Science and reported by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, raised concerns that the widely accepted 6 feet of social distance may not be far enough to keep people safe.
11:59 a.m. “Cruise to nowhere” cut short after infection: A Royal Caribbean “cruise-to-nowhere” from Singapore began disembarking its nearly 1,700 passengers who were confined to their cabins for more than 16 hours Wednesday after a COVID-19 case was detected onboard, forcing the ship back to port, Reuters reports. All passengers had cleared a mandatory coronavirus test up to three days before the four-day cruise began on Monday.
11:48 a.m. Governor of Pennsylvania infected: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said he’s infected with the coronavirus but as yet has no symptoms. The Democratic governor said in a statement he tested positive Tuesday after a “routine” test. He said he will quarantine at home and is “continuing to serve the commonwealth and performing all of my duties remotely.”
11:29 a.m. Vaccine supplies start shipping in U.S.: Operation Warp Speed, the government program overseeing the rollout of coronavirus vaccines, has approved supply shipments in anticipation of the Pfizer vaccine getting FDA emergency use authorization Thursday. Government officials told a press briefing that syringes, needles, and alcohol wipes would start going out Wednesday and through the end of the week.
11:20 Azar predicts millions to get vaccine in coming weeks: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, in a CNN interview Wednesday, estimated that 20 million Americans should get a coronavirus vaccine “in the next several weeks.” His comments came the Food and Drug Administration nears a decision on approval of the two most promising vaccine candidates. An FDA advisory committee meets Thursday to consider its recommendation to the agency on Pfizer’s vaccine.
11:05 a.m. Unwelcome preview of what may come over holidays: More than 1 in 5 people in the United States spent Thanksgiving Day away from their homes, an analysis of phone location data shows as the impact of that holiday gathering now is emerging in coronavirus infections, the Washington Post reports. The data from SafeGraph offers a look at how many Americans flouted the beseeching of public health officials urging them to stay home to prevent virus spread. SafeGraph also found that about 1 in 8 people traveled more than 30 miles during the holiday.
10:59 a.m. Drivers 70 and older can renew licenses online: California drivers 70 and older can renew their licenses online, the Department of Motor Vehicles said Wednesday. Anyone with a license that expired since March 1 is eligible. The DMV, which previously extended expired licenses for those 70 and over for one year, plans to add a mail option soon.
10:49 a.m. UAE approves China vaccine: One of China’s coronavirus vaccines has been approved for general use by a government for the first time: the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday endorsed a vaccine made by Sinopharm after reviewing the drugmaker’s assessment that it was 86% effective. The announcement comes as a relief for China, which has already approved widespread emergency use of the vaccine.
10:28 a.m. U.S. military getting vaccine doses as early as next week: The Pentagon will get “just under 44,000” initial doses of a coronavirus vaccine, with health care providers and support personnel among the first to receive it, officials said Wednesday. Assistant defense secretary Thomas McCaffery said the Pfizer vaccine would come “as early as next week for immediate use,” the Hill reports.
10:19 a.m. Despite pandemic, historic sales for luxury homes: Bay Area luxury homes have become a hotter commodity than ever during the pandemic, even the at the top end of the market. After a huge plunge right after shelter-in-place orders first went into effect in March, general home sales have rebounded across the Bay Area. And sales of luxury and ultra-luxury homes in particular have jumped to historic highs. Read how the pandemic economy works in this market.
10:06 a.m. Transit leaders call for emergency funding: A coalition of national transit leaders, including BART General Manager Bob Powers, is pleading for emergency federal funding, asking Congress not to wait for a new Congress to be seated. Money is needed to prevent service cuts, fare increases and layoffs, they said. Transit agencies ultimately need $32 billion. Powers said service cuts are “unconscionable” and would harm economic recovery. “Five years from now when we look back at this time, will this be the moment when we widened the mobility gap or will it be the moment we thrived in the face of challenges?” he asked.
10 a.m. Men 3 times more likely than women to end up in ICU: Male COVID-19 patients have almost three times the odds of requiring intensive care admission and higher odds of death compared to females, according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications. Researchers from University College London and the University of Cape Town studied data from more than 3 million COVID-19 cases. “With few exceptions, the sex bias observed in COVID-19 is a worldwide phenomenon,” they wrote
9:55 a.m. SF to offer free testing in Tenderloin on Saturday: San Francisco will offer free, walk-up coronavirus tests on Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on the 200 block of Turk Street.
9:39 a.m. Playground reversal follows grocer ease-up: The ease-up by California officials on playgrounds, after closures had sparked intense community objection, followed shortly after the state also relented on grocery store capacity limits, to now allow stores to let 35% of customer capacity inside instead of 20% as in the initial recent stay-home order.
9:31 a.m. S.F. playgrounds will open Thursday: Mayor London Breed announced Wednesday that San Francisco playgrounds will reopen Thursday, and welcomed new state guidelines allowing the change. “Playgrounds may remain open to facilitate physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise,” a city statement says. “Outdoor activity is important for all of our physical and mental health, especially children,” Breed said in a tweet.
9:25 a.m. State relents, allows playgrounds to open: California officials have reversed course and will now allow outdoor playgrounds to open under the new regional stay-at-home order. “Playgrounds may remain open to facilitate physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise. Playgrounds located on schools that remain open for in-person instruction, and not accessible by the general public, may remain open and must follow guidance for schools and school-based programs,” updated state guidance says. It was posted on the state website without fanfare.
9:12 a.m. Three counties are out of intensive care unit beds: Fresno County, Kings County and Madera County have no intensive care capacity available, according to the state department of public health. “Those who aren’t in the medical field may not understand or quite grasp just how dire the situation is, but all the things you’re hearing about — how impacted our hospitals are, about how dire the situation with our ICUs is — it’s absolutely true and that really is the reason that we want everyone to stay home as much as possible,” Dr. Rais Vohra, interim Fresno County health officer, told CNN. The counties are part of the San Joaquin Valley Region which is under California‘s mandated stay-home order.
8:59 a.m. Canada approves Pfizer vaccine: Canada’s health regulator on Wednesday approved the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech. Health Canada posted the authorization on it is website. Canada is set to receive up to 249,000 doses this month and 4 million doses of the vaccine by March.
8:47 a.m. SF Beer Week is — wait for it — canceled: Like all public gatherings during the pandemic, the 2021 edition of SF Beer Week, the annual celebration of craft beer, now has been canceled. The Bay Area Brewers Guild, will, however, participate in a virtual California Craft Beer Week Feb. 12-21, to include things like virtual beer tastings and regional brewery competitions to help promote craft beer. Read details here.
8:39 a.m. Santas are still here, just different: Virtual Santa Claus visits have exploded during the pandemic as the typical in-person appearances have crashed. Across the nation, Santas still working in person are using ear horns to hear shy children dictate their lists from behind face masks and 6 feet away. “They’re talking about putting me on a roof in a sleigh and having me slide candy down to the kids,” says Eric Martin, the Santa at Oakland’s Fairy Winterland. Read the story here.
8:35 a.m. Bay Area sees upshot of Thanksgiving gathering: Data indicates the worst is coming true after officials warned people not to gather or travel for Thanksgiving. In the nine Bay Area counties, the seven-day rolling average of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people has spiked sharply, reflecting holiday infections. On Tuesday it was 35, up from 23 on Dec. 2. Read more about the upswing, which is expected to continue for many days, here.
8:19 a.m. Bay Area readies to vaccinate as soon as coming week: Bay Area hospitals and health departments are preparing plans to administer coronavirus shots to the highest-priority health care workers and first responders as soon as next week. It will mark the beginning of a months-long vaccine distribution process throughout California that will gradually swell by next summer as more vaccines are approved, manufactured and shipped to counties. Read the full story here.
8:13 a.m. A bid to address panic shopping: At least three of the five Bay Area counties mandating stay-at-home orders will increase the number of customers they allow inside grocery stores, matching the state’s latest update. Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin counties will allow up to 35% capacity in grocery stores, up from the 20% initially announced last week. The change came after pushback from the California Grocers Association, which said it sought to stem long lines, frenzied buying and stockpiling. Read the details here.
8:02 a.m. California sends stay-home text blast: California emergency officials sent a cell-phone text alert to the Southern California and 12-county San Joaquin Valley regions asking millions to stay home, except for essential activities, in the face of the rapidly spreading coronavirus. The Tuesday blast lso urged people to wear masks and physically distance. Both regions are under state-mandated stay-home orders due to their exceedingly low availability of intensive care hospital beds.
7:49 a.m. Giuliani associate eschews test and self-quarantine: A woman who attracted national attention after testifying at the side of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani about alleged voter fraud in Michigan says she is not self-quarantining and has not been tested for the coronavirus following Giuliani’s positive test and hospitalization. Mellissa Carone testified before state lawmakers a week ago with Giuliani. Neither wore masks. The two also posed for photos.
7:29 a.m. Stocks flatten as stimulus talks drag on: After rising in early trading, the major indexes pulled back to near where they started on signs that Congress may not produce a stimulus package quickly. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Politico that legislators were “looking for a way forward” on a new relief bill.
7:16 a.m. Britain probes allergic reactions to vaccine: British regulators are investigating two unspecified adverse reactions from the first day of the U.K.’s mass vaccination program, and warned Wednesday that people with a history of serious allergic reactions shouldn’t receive the new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. They are looking into whether the reactions were linked to the vaccine. The two infected people had a history of allergies had and are recovering.
6:55 a.m. Mixed messages? UC Berkeley closes residence halls while urging students to heed stay-at-home orders: UC Berkeley recently released travel guidelines for students planning to return home for the holidays, but some feel the university is sending mixed messages by urging students to follow new stay-at-home guidelines that restrict travel while it closes most on-campus housing during winter break. Read the full story from The Chronicle’s Vanessa Arredondo here.
6:48 a.m. Transmission risk at Bay Area schools is low. So why is fear of returning still so high? Recent data from Marin County, where nearly 80% of public and private schools are open, show the risk of getting the coronavirus at a school is lower than the chance of getting it in the community as a whole, according to health officials. Since Marin County classrooms started reopening in September, there have been just two cases of suspected transmission at a school. Read the full story from The Chronicle’s Jill Tucker here.
Updates from Tuesday, Dec. 8:
9:59 p.m. California exceeds 30,000 new cases: For a second straight day, California has exceeded 30,000 new coronavirus cases, according to The Chronicle’s coronavirus tracker. On Monday, the state set a record: 34,490 positive test results. On Tuesday, the state recorded an additional 35,400 cases, breaking Monday’s record. Prior to Monday, the record was 22,369 new cases in the state, set on Friday.
5:45 p.m Giuliani expected to leave the hospital on Wednesday: Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said he expects to leave the hospital on Wednesday after he was admitted earlier this week due to COVID-19. Calling into his own WABC Radio show in New York on Tuesday, President Trump’s lawyer said he was feeling better after getting the same remdesivir and dexamethasone combination his boss received in October. “I have no fever,” he said. “I have very little cough, it’s just about also gone, I’ve been walking around, and I think they’re going to let me out tomorrow morning.” Giuliani also once again spoke out against mask mandates. He plans to attend a virtual hearing this week with Georgia lawmakers.
4:40 p.m. S.F. plans to distribute free holiday meal kits at Cow Palace: The San Francisco Department of Public Health on Tuesday announced a city-wide community event called Feeding 5000 that aims to provide holiday meals to residents in need. The drive-through service will allow approved organizations to pick up and distribute meal bags including turkey, grocery bags and gift cards to their community members who are suffering the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The event will take place on Wednesday at the Cow Palace.
3:30 p.m. UC Berkeley eyes pay cuts and furloughs: Due to losses incurred by the pandemic, UC Berkeley plans to roll out a wide-reaching salary reduction program that will affect thousands of its employees beginning Feb. 1. In a statement Tuesday, Chancellor Carol Christ said under the new plan, union-represented staff will have hours reduced, while non-represented staff and academic employees will see furlough days and pay cuts for at least a year. “We want to acknowledge that there remain a number of issues to be discussed with deans and managers before we finalize the details,” she said.
3:20 p.m. Santa Clara County has confirmed more than 40,000 infections: Santa Clara County leads the Bay Area in the number of coronavirus cases so far, with 40,624 infections as of Monday’s count, as well as 511 lives lost to the virus. San Francisco as of Tuesday had confirmed 17,197 cases, along with 164 coronavirus deaths.
3:15 p.m. Free testing coming to San Francisco Ferry Building: A mobile coronavirus testing van will be at the San Francisco Ferry Building on Thursday and Dec. 17. The service operated by Curative will offer free, self-administered, PCR oral fluid, swab tests, with results within 24-48 hours. “With the holiday season in full swing and the Ferry Building being one of the most iconic and heavily trafficked tourist and local spots in SF, our COVID-19 testing van will allow residents to get tested safely and efficiently,” a company spokesperson said. Appointments are open to the public on the Curative website.
2:40 p.m. Another record for state hospitalizations: In its latest bleak coronavirus milestone, California reported a record 10,567 Californians were in hospitals with COVID-19 across the state on Monday, as the steep rise in infections saw daily fatalities nearly tripled over the past month. The Bay Area had 3,299 COVID-19 patients, data collected by The Chronicle shows.
2:35 p.m. North Carolina goes to modified stay-home order: Gov. Roy Cooper unveiled a curfew Tuesday that, much like California’s, requires the state’s roughly 10.5 million residents to remain off the streets between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The executive takes effect on Friday and orders bars, restaurants, entertainment venues and personal care businesses closed by 10 p.m., though grocery chains and some retailers that sell groceries will be allowed to operate within the seven-hour window.
2:26 p.m. Trump holds virus “summit”: President Trump packed industry officials and members of his administration — most of them wearing masks — into a “vaccine summit” into to celebrate the expected approval of a vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration this week, the New York Times reports. Not invited were members of President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, who seek a smooth delivery of the vaccine by the next administration, or Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force whose science advice and approach have fallen from favor with Trump and who has been tapped by Biden as a top medical adviser.
2:11 Christmas tree sales in Bay Area soar: Sales of Christmas trees in the Bay Area are brisk this year as people hunker down for smaller pandemic-era holidays at home. Tree sellers, which mostly do sales outdoors, are allowed to continue operating during the stay-at-home orders covering five Bay Area counties. Christmas Tree Jamboree in San Francisco was so overwhelmed with online orders that it stopped offering the service after the weekend crush, saying it no longer could do deliveries. Read the full story here.
2:07 p.m. White House wants $600 stimulus checks: White House officials are asking Senate Republican leadership to include stimulus checks worth $600, to help people suffering economically from the pandemic, in the emergency economic relief package being debated in Congress, two sources told the Washington Post. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not include a second round of stimulus payments in the relief proposal that he released last week.
1:22 p.m. More Wall Street records fall: Stocks rose to all-time highs on Tuesday as Britain began administering the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. The Dow gained 0.4%, the S&P 500 advanced 0.3% and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.5%. Pfizer shares rose more than 3% to their highest level in more than a year. BioNTech, which developed the vaccine alongside Pfizer, saw its stock rise by 1.8%.
1:10 p.m. Top priority for Biden-Harris team —building vaccine trust: UCSF Dr. Robert Rodriguez, a member of the Biden-Harris coronavirus task force, said the new administration will prioritize a public messaging campaign to get vulnerable communities to accept a coronavirus vaccine. “There is a lot of fear about the vaccine,” he said Tuesday, speaking at a virtual forum hosted by the California Medical Association. He cited polls showing 30% to 40% of U.S. residents unwilling to take the vaccine. “Unfortunately, the past year there’s been a lot of misinformation and not accepting science,” Rodriguez said. “The big point for us is to change that message to say we’re going to work off of science and you can trust the team.
12:47 p.m. Virus protocols cancel Stanford game, put coach’s record pursuit on hold: Citing coronavirus protocols, Stanford on Tuesday announced that Friday night’s women’s basketball game against UC Davis has been canceled. The Cardinal moved into the No. 1 spot in this week’s Associated Press top 25 poll, and head coach Tara VanDerveer is one win away from tying Tennessee legend Pat Summitt for the most wins in the history of women’s college basketball. Read the story here.
12:27 p.m. U.S. deaths now average more than 2,200 a day: Deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. have soared to more than 2,200 a day on average, matching the frightening peak reached last April, and cases per day have eclipsed 200,000 on average for the first time on record, with the crisis all but certain to get worse with holiday fallout. Virtually every state is reporting surges just as a vaccine appears days away from getting the go-ahead in the U.S.
12:20 p.m. Documentary shows virus early days in Wuhan: The Chronicle’s G. Allen Johnson reviews a gut-wrenching cinema verite documentary that soberly observes the fear and anxiety as the coronavirus that now encircles the globe first took hold in Wuhan, China, and the frustration and exhaustion of medical teams struggling to keep it from spiraling out of control. Read it here.
12:01 p.m. U.S. tops 15 million cases as virus spread quickens at alarming pace: The nation now has confirmed 15,067,819 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University as of midday Tuesday. The pace of spread has picked up rapidly. It took 98 days to register the first 1 million cases in the country on April 28. This month, it took just 5 days to go from 14 million cases to 15 million cases.
11:48 a.m. Fauci calls Biden goals bold: Dr. Anthony Fauci, welcoming President-elect Joe Biden’s appointment as his top medical adviser, on Tuesday praised Biden’s “world-class” health team and lauded his first-100-day coronavirus goals: “These actions are bold, but they are doable,” Fauci said, adding the coronavirus health crisis is “the toughest one we have ever faced as a nation.” In the pandemic fight, he said,“we must lead with science,” perhaps a veiled reference to his past criticism of President Trump’s recently resigned coronavirus adviser, Scott Atlas, who also was attacked by his former faculty colleagues at Stanford for promoting non-science-based ideas. Fauci said a key to the new virus strategy must be “communicating consistently with the American people,” another source of frustration for government health experts who had to deal with President Trump’s own flouting of their public health guidelines.
11:22 a.m. Becerra says federal health department mission never more urgent: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Tuesday he is looking forward to the “breathtaking opportunity” to work with the Biden administration as health and human services secretary, including tackling the coronavirus pandemic and the pressing need to build unity to prevent transmission and spur treatment. Speaking remotely from California as Biden introduced his health team nominees, Becerra said Biden’s vision will help the nation emerge a stronger, more just and more equitable country. “The mission of the department of Health and Human Services has never been as vital or as urgent as it is today,” Becerra said. “You have made it clear, Mr. President-elect, that to build back a prosperous America we need a healthy America, that then will be job one for your team at HHS.”
11:19 a.m. Biden lays out top 3 coronavirus objectives for first 100 days: President-elect Joe Biden said Tuesday that his top priorities to tackle the pandemic during his first 100 days will be to: require masks throughout the government and in federal buildings, and urge mayors and governors to do the same in their government facilities; seek to deliver 100 million vaccine shots, though he said it will require action from the Trump administration now to spur manufacturing and distribution, and more funding from Congress; and to get the nation’s schools open in a safe manner. “My first 100 days won’t end the coronavirus pandemic. I can’t promise that,” Biden told a news briefing. But he said he is “absolutely convinced” the nation can change the course of the disease.
10:59 a.m. California lawmakers dine together despite public health concerns: Hours after their socially distanced swearing-in session that was moved Monday to an NBA arena in Sacramento for safety, five state Assembly members dined together outside at a Sacramento restaurant, despite health officials’ warnings to the public to stay with their own households, the Sacramento Bee reports. They included Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, along with Adrin Nazarian, D-Los Angeles, Chad Mayes, I-Yucca Valley, Tasha Boerner Horvath, D-Encinitas and Chris Ward, D-San Diego, along with Mayes’ fiancée. Asked by a Bee reporter about the multi-household outing, Nazarian responded,“Can we not have dinner?”
10:49 a.m. Top administration vaccine scientist can’t explain Trump order: The chief scientist of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed was unable Tuesday to explain President Trump’s new executive order that aims to prioritize coronavirus vaccine shipments to Americans over other countries. Moncef Slaouwas, asked to clarify the order, told ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “Frankly, I don’t know, and frankly, I’m staying out of this. I can’t comment,” Slaoui said. “I literally don’t know.” Vaccine companies already have made deals to provide vaccine to other countries, as well as the U.S.
10:39 a.m. Michigan lawmakers cancel more sessions: The Michigan House canceled voting sessions scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday after a staffer tested positive for the coronavirus. Speaker Lee Chatfield said the employee works with several lawmakers and committees but “had nothing to do with” a hearing attended last week by President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who subsequently has been hospitalized with the virus.
10:35 a.m. Mexico announces vaccinations will begin this month: Mexico plans to being vaccinating its people against the coronavirus at the end of the third week of December, starting with health workers, the government announced Tuesday. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the vaccines will be “universal and free” — and also voluntary — and he hopes the full population will be vaccinated by the end of 2021.
9:54 a.m. Giroir says 20 million vaccinations a month start this month: Brett Giroir, U.S. assistant secretary for health administration, told “CBS This Morning” the U.S. expects to be able to vaccinate about 20 million people this month, 20-25 million in January and another 20-25 million in February with vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, assuming both receive FDA emergency approval. The Trump administration is denying it will have any vaccine availability problems next year, saying Moderna’s and others in the pipeline will be ample following the initial rollout of Pfizer’s.
9:48 a.m. GOP leaders convene on spending coronavirus relief: Top White House and congressional Republicans were convening Tuesday to sort out end-of-session business on government spending and COVID-19 relief. Lawmakers are struggling over long-delayed pandemic relief, including help for businesses, more unemployment benefits, vaccine distribution funding and money Democrats are demanding for state and local governments. A flashpoint is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s demand to give businesses, universities and others a shield against lawsuits for COVID-related negligence.
9:30 a.m. New York set to restrict indoor dining: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that unless hospitalization rates stabilize by Friday, indoor dining will be closed or reduced statewide. New York City’s indoor dining would close entirely, Cuomo tweeted, while in rest of the state, it would be reduced to 25% capacity. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that he expects to see the restrictions implemented within days. “No one is happy about it. I feel for the small businesses that might be affected and their employees, but this situation has to be addressed,” he said.
9:15 a.m. Fauci says pandemic could be under control by late 2021: Dr. Anthony Fauci projected Tuesday that people will be able to return to offices, theaters, sports arenas and bustling restaurants by the second half of 2021 if there’s a successful rollout of vaccines. “I believe as we get into the second quarter we can have a degree of protection that we can approach normality in many of our activities,” the nation’s top infectious disease expert said during an interview streamed from the Wall Street Journal CEO Council summit. He said vaccines will be the game-changer, and praised the science community for rapidly developing vaccines that are 94-95% efficacious. “That’s astoundingly good,” he said.
9:08 a.m. IRS warns of $1,200 stimulus-payment scam: The IRS is warning people not to respond to a text message that says they have “received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment.” It includes a web link that appears to come from a state agency or relief organization but goes to a fake website that looks like the IRS.gov Get My Payment website. “The thief’s goal is to trick people into revealing bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payment,” the IRS said. IRS says it does not send unsolicited texts or emails, and never demands immediate payment with a gift card, prepaid debit card or wire transfer, or threatens to arrest taxpayers.
9:04 a.m. Another Trump lawyer infected: President Trump’s lawyer Jenna Ellis has informed associates she has the coronavirus, according to sources who spoke with Axios. Ellis was a guest at a senior staff Christmas party at the White House on Friday and was not seen wearing a mask, according to sources who attended. She also has appeared regularly with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, now hospitalized with COVID-19, as they seek to contest results of the election
8:59 a.m. Pfizer tells U.S it can’t supply more vaccine until summer: Pfizer has told the Trump administration it cannot provide substantial additional doses of its coronavirus vaccine until late June or July because other countries have rushed to buy up most of its supply, the Washington Post reports, citing multiple people familiar with the situation. That means the government may not be able to ramp up as rapidly as it planne from the 100 million doses Pfizer vaccine it purchased earlier this year, raising questions about whether it can vaccinate most Americans by early summer.
8:50 a.m. Flap over administration failure to order more Pfizer vaccine when it could: President Trump’s administration faced new scrutiny Tuesday after failing to lock in a chance to buy millions of additional doses of Pfizer’s pending coronavirus vaccine months ago, a decision that could delay a second round of deliveries untill Pfizer fulfills international contracts. Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who heads the government’s vaccine effort, noted officials had looked at several vaccines during the summer. He told “Good Morning America” on Tuesday that “no one reasonably would buy more from any one of those vaccines because we didn’t know which one would work and which one would be better than the other.”
8:39 a.m. California 3rd after New York, Texas in deaths: California’s COVID-19 death toll reached 20,054 Tuesday morning, after crossing the 20,000 threshold a day earlier. The state still lags the two states that have lost the most lives to the deadly coronavirus: New York with more than 35,000 deaths, and Texas with more than 23,000. The United States as a whole now has lost more than 284,000 lives to the virus since the start of the pandemic.
8:23 a.m. AstraZeneca vaccine questions remain for older adults: New results on the Oxford University-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine suggest it is safe and about 70% effective, but questions remain about how well it may protect those over 55. Experts say the vaccine seems likely to be approved, despite some results confusion: Partial safety results published Tuesday in the medical journal Lancet are hard to interpret, the Associated Press reports, because a mistake led some participants to get a half dose followed by a full one rather than two full doses as intended.
8:04 a.m. Hang onto mask even after vaccination: Coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna appear effective in preventing serious illness, but it’s not clear how well they curb virus spread, the New York Times reports. That’s because trials tracked who got sick with COVID-19, not whether vaccinated people could still be infected without symptoms and thus spread the virus. “A lot of people are thinking that once they get vaccinated, they’re not going to have to wear masks anymore,” said Michal Tal, a Stanford University immunologist. “It’s really going to be critical for them to know if they have to keep wearing masks, because they could still be contagious.”
7:51 a.m. Bay Area counties hit records for COVID-19 patients: Coronavirus hospitalizations have hit record numbers in four of the five Bay Area counties that issued strict stay-home orders to prevent their hospitals from becoming overwhelmed: San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties. Across the greater Bay Area region, total ICU available capacity was at 25.7% on Monday, still above the 15% threshold that would have triggered an automatic state stay-home order akin to what the four counties, along with Marin, issued preemptively this past weekend. Read more on the hospital and patient trends.
7:30 a.m. FDA analysis lists side effects of Pfizer vaccine: The FDA in its analysis of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine said the most common side effects in addition to reactions at the injection site were: fatigue (experienced by 62.9% of trial participants), headache (55.1%), muscle pain (38.3%), chills (31.9%), joint pain (23.6%) and fever (14.2%). “Severe adverse reactions” occured in less than 4.6% of participants, were more frequent after the second of the two required doses, and occurred less often in people over 55. The FDA’s vaccine advisory panel will discuss the report ahead of its vote on whether to recommend emergency authorization of the vaccine.
7:12 a.m. Dow swings into the positive: After falling in early trading, the Dow index showed a slight gain. News of the FDA’s positive findings on Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine helped lift stocks.
6:15 a.m. UK administers first vaccine: Wearing a surgical mask and a “Merry Christmas” sweater, a retired British shop clerk became the first woman in her country to receive the coronavirus vaccine Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.
5:53 a.m. FDA confirms efficacy, safety of Pfizer vaccine: The Food and Drug Administration released documents Tuesday indicating that data from Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine trials was “consistent” with the agency’s guidelines for issuing an emergency authorization for the drug. The data from the vaccine trials, according to the agency “ensure the vaccine’s quality and consistency for authorization” under emergency protocols. Pfizer’s vaccine must be administered in two doses, which the FDA found to be both safe and effective in protecting against the coronavirus.
Updates from Monday, Dec. 7:
8:40 p.m. California sees jump in new coronavirus cases: For the first time since the pandemic began, the number of new coronavirus cases in the Bay Area exceeded 3,000 in a day — with 3,843 on Monday, according to The Chronicle’s coronavirus tracker. California, likewise, broke a record with 33,775 new cases in a day on Monday.
6:30 p.m. 20,000 dead in California from coronavirus: California’s death toll surpassed 20,000 on Monday, with some counties yet to report, according the The Chronicle’s coronavirus tracker. The toll accounts for each death attributed to the pandemic in the state since the beginning of the pandemic.
4:40 p.m. Bay Area begins to feel Thanksgiving fallout as coronavirus cases surge: Coronavirus cases have shot up over the past several days in San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area, the first sign of a dreaded post-Thanksgiving surge that public health officials fear will put more strain on hospitals already on pace to run out of beds. Over the past four days, San Francisco reported 1,067 new cases — a shockingly high number that accounts for 6% of the city’s 17,000 total cases since the pandemic began. San Francisco reported a record-high 316 cases on Monday. Read the story here.
3:35 p.m. Michigan lawmakers cancel session following Giuliani trip: Fallout from Trump attorney Rudolph Giuliani’s COVID-19 hospitalization continued Monday as the Michigan House announced it had canceled a voting session scheduled for Tuesday. Giuliani spoke for hours last week before a Republican-led committee in Lansing investigating alleged election irregularities. “Multiple representatives have requested time to receive results from recent COVID-19 tests before returning to session, out of an abundance of caution,” the House speaker said.
3:31 p.m. Lower caseloads would trigger California schools reopening under proposal: California’s public schools would be forced to reopen when coronavirus case counts dip and county officials give an OK, under a proposal from Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco. The bill would require schools to resume in-person learning within two weeks of their county moving into red, orange or yellow tiers. Most counties have recently returned to the most stringent purple tier due to the new surge. Read the full story here.
3:27 p.m. Doctor who criticized Trump’s ride outside hospital removed from Walter Reed schedule: An attending physician at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center who called out President Trump for driving out to greet supporters while hospitalized for COVID-19 has been removed from the hospital’s schedule beginning in January, CBS News reported Monday. James Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University was an attending physician under contract for Walter Reed.
3:17 p.m. Trump executive order would ensure America first for vaccine: President Trump is expected to sign an executive order Tuesday, purportedly to ensure all Americans have access to the coronavirus vaccine before the government begins aiding other nations, Fox News learned Monday. The New York Times reports that Trump administration officials passed, however, when Pfizer offered in late summer to sell the U.S. government additional doses, meaning the company might not be able to provide more to the United States until June because of its commitments to other countries.
3 p.m. Santa Clara County has only 50 ICU beds empty: Santa Clara County on Sunday set a new record with 1,450 new coronavirus infections, Dr. Ahmad Kamal, director of health care preparedness, said Monday. Sixty-two COVID-19 patients were hospitalized on Sunday alone, he said. “We are very concerned about our health care system’s capacity,” especially ICU beds, Kamal said. “As of today, we have 50 empty ICU beds remaining … for a county of 2 million people, to care not just for COVID but to care for everyone who needs critical care.”
2:57 p.m. Santa Clara County to receive first coronavirus vaccines around Dec. 15: Santa Clara County expects to receive 17,500 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, assuming it gets federal approval, around Dec. 15, said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib of the county’s department of public health. That will be the county’s portion of the first 327,000 doses the state is expected to receive Dec. 12-15.
2:56 p.m. Fauci warns Christmas may be worse than Thanksgiving: Holidays have been bad for coronavirus transmission as too many people ignored public health warnings against gatherings. Now Christmas could shape up to be worse than Thanksgiving pandemic-wise, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday. He told CNN that his holiday concerns are the same, “only this may be even more compounded because it’s a longer holiday” with Christmas leading into New Year’s. “I hope that people realize that and understand that as difficult as this is, nobody wants to modify, if not, essentially shut down, their holiday season.” In this “critical time,” he said, “We’ve got to not walk away from the facts and the data. This is tough going for all of us.”
2:48 p.m. Warriors’ Green, Wiseman infected: Forward Draymond Green and center James Wiseman missed the Warriors’ first group practice of training camp Monday after testing positive for the coronavirus, a league source confirmed to The Chronicle. Head coach Steve Kerr is prohibited from naming the two players who tested positive last week. After announcing that Green and Wiseman were out Monday, he declined to say why they were absent, then telling reporters, “I think you guys all got it.” Read more here.
2:36 p.m. Congress to vote on stopgap giving more time to reach aid deal: Congress will vote this week on one-week stopgap funding to keep the government running in order to secure more time to negotiate government spending and emergency stimulus legislation for the ailing American economy. Congressional leaders hoped to attach coronavirus relief legislation to the larger spending bill, but work is not complete, the Washington Post reports. The bipartisan negotiators behind a $908 billion relief proposal were expected to release a section by section summary of their plan as soon as Monday night, but were still working on legislative language that could be signed into law and were torn over a liability shield for coronavirus-related laws.
2:30 p.m. C
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