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. 20-26
Read the full timeline:
Updates from Thursday, Dec. 3:
8:45 p.m. Another Newsom staff member tests positive: A second staff member in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, just a day after officials said an undisclosed number of staff members were under quarantine after a separate staffer tested positive on Wednesday. The two cases are not related. “This individual has been working remotely for several weeks and has not physically been in the office,” a governor’s office spokesperson said in a statement.
6:50 p.m. ‘We may not be able to care for people at our hospitals’ if COVID surge continues, S.F. officials say: The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management is describing the current COVID case spike in dire terms, saying that if the trend continues upward, the area’s hospitals may run out of room. “Within weeks, we may not be able to care for people at our hospitals,” the department tweeted Thursday. Unlike in previous surges, the stress placed on hospitals is not localized. Since every hospital in California is under the same stress, “there is no place to transfer people if we run out of beds,” the department said.
6:40 p.m. Coronavirus vaccines arriving soon in California: Here’s who will get them first: At UCSF, the first vaccines will go to employees with the most direct contact with COVID-19 patients, including urgent care and emergency department doctors and nurses. Read the story here.
6:10 p.m. Available ICU capacity in Bay Area region at 25.4%, state says: The current available intensive care unit capacity in the Bay Area region was at 25.4% on Thursday, California Department of Public Health officials said. When referring to the Bay Area region, state officials include Monterey and Santa Cruz counties in addition to Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma counties. Elsewhere in California, state data shows the Greater Sacramento region was at 22%; the Northern California region was at 18.6%; the San Joaquin Valley region was at 19.7%; and the Southern California was at 20.6% available ICU capacity.
3:28 p.m. Oops, says Fauci: Dr. Antony Fauci apologized Thursday for comments appearing critical of the coronavirus vaccine-approval process in Britain, the first country to grant emergency authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. “There really has been a misunderstanding, and for that I’m sorry, and I apologize for that,” Fauci said during an interview with the BBC. He had earlier told a CBS podcast that Britain “really rushed through that approval.”
3:15 p.m. New York City sees highest positive test results since May: New York City’s seven-day average daily positive rate for coronavirus tests is above 5%, to 5.19%, for the first time since May 28, when nonessential businesses remained shut down and the city was a center of the U.S. pandemic. With the city’s coronavirus hospital admissions and case counts on a sustained climb, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned on Thursday that the virus second wave “unfortunately, is right upon us,” the New York Times reports.
3:04 p.m. Biden to call on Americans for 100-day national mask conformity: President-elect Joe Biden said Thursday he will ask all Americans to wear a mask for the first 100 days after he takes office. “Just 100 days. Not forever. I think we’ll see a significant reduction … to drive down the numbers considerably,” Biden said during an interview with CNN’s Jake Trapper. Noting his decision to elevate Dr. Anthony Fauci as his chief medical advisor, he said, “You don’t have to close down the economy if, in fact, you have clear guidance.”
3:02 p.m. CDC director accepts vaccine priority recommendations: Director Dr. Robert Redfield accepted the coronavirus vaccine recommendations voted on this week by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The advisers voted 13-1 to give the first round of any vaccines approved by the FDA to health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities “Dr. Redfield supports their recommendations and has signed the memo and accepted these interim recommendations,” the CDC said in a statement on Thursday.
2:56 p.m. Bay Area just shy of 2,000 deaths: The Bay Area on Thursday afternoon stood at the cusp of confirming 2,000 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The death toll, with some counties still to report their daily totals, stood at 1,996 lives lost to the insidious coronavirus that continues to stalk California, the nation and the world.
2:51 p.m. California regions will send orders for vaccines on Friday: Regions around the state on Friday will begin ordering vaccine doses directly from Pfizer, which is awaiting federal approval for it’s coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday. The other company with a vaccine pending at the FDA, Moderna, uses an intermediary distributor, McKesson, to deliver its product.
2:46 p.m. Vaccines will last months but could take weeks to offer protection: New research on mRNA vaccines, one type of coronavirus vaccine, finds that they are durable for at least four months but could take six to eight weeks from the first dose to become fully effective. The study “Durability of Responses after SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-1273 Vaccination” was published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
2:36 p.m. State’s positive test results continue upswing: The rate of coronavirus tests in California with positive results hit an average 7% for the past 14 days, compared to 5.2% over the prior two weeks, state officials said Thursday. Hospitalizations have gone up 86% statewide over 14 days and intensive care admissions up 67%.
2:32 p.m. Onsite dining would shutter once shutdown order hits Bay Area: It is not happening just yet, but outdoor and indoor dining would be banned in certain California regions under a new stay-at-home order likely taking effect in the coming weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday. Bars and wineries would have to temporarily close altogether. The new order breaks up the state into five regions and hit each 48 hours after a region’s intensive care unit capacity drops below 15%. As of now, no regions in California meet that metric. The state projects the Bay Area will hit the threshold in mid to late December.
2:27 p.m. Biden taps Fauci as a chief medical adviser: President-elect Joe Biden, in a CNN interview, said Thursday that he has asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to be chief medical adviser and remain a member of the new administration’s coronavirus team, as well as retaining his post as director of nation’s top infectious disease agency. The two spoke by phone Thursday after Fauci said he did anticipate staying on with the government. President Trump on the other hand has hinted that he would fire Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force whose science-based coronavirus messages were often at odds with the Trump’s efforts to downplay the pandemic.
2:20 p.m. U.S. surpasses 14 million cases: The U.S. has confirmed at least 14,061,616 coronavirus cases as of Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. passed the 13 million mark just 6 days ago on Nov. 27. It took the country 98 days to reach its first 1 million cases on April 28. Meanwhile, the global COVID-19 death toll passed 1.5 million on Thursday, including at least 275,256 fatalities in the United States.
2:17 p.m. California to receive 1 million vaccine doses by year’s end: California expects to receive 1 million doses of coronavirus vaccines by the end of the year, state health officer Dr. Erica Pan said Thursday during a virtual meeting held by UCSF. That includes the first shipment of 327,000 Pfizer vaccine doses, expected to arrive in mid-December, and an additional 700,000 doses after that. The first people to get vaccinated will be health care workers, first responders and residents and employees of long-term care facilities.
2:10 p.m. Breed warns S.F. is entering ‘most dangerous time’ in the pandemic: Even though the Bay Area avoided falling under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new stay-at-home order on Thursday, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the city is talking to neighboring counties about next steps in curbing cases and hospitalizations. “We are right now in the most dangerous time of this pandemic for our state and our region,” she said on Twitter. “Unless we get things under control immediately, we could quickly run out of hospital beds in the Bay Area.” San Francisco’s 209 new coronavirus infections Thursday marked its highest daily level since July.
1:59 p.m. UC will not require employees to get vaccinated: The University of California will not require its employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, Desi Kotis, UCSF’s chief pharmacy executive, said Thursday during a UCSF virtual meeting. UC does require employees and students to get flu vaccines. UCSF is slated to receive and administer the Pfizer vaccine to health care workers and first responders in the next few weeks.
1:49 p.m. Advisory tells Californians not to travel: California officials are telling residents to avoid non-essential travel, characterizing the directive as more than just a recommendation while acknowledging Thursday that enforcement is largely voluntary. To prevent coronavirus spread, the state says on its website, “Californians should not travel significant distances and should stay close to home as much as possible. Stay in your county if you can. Don’t drive more than 2-3 hours.” Gov. Gavin Newsom also said that hotels and lodgings should be only for essential workers and guests. His slide at Thursday’s briefing was more definitive than the state website language. “All non-essential travel is temporarily restricted statewide,” the slide said.
1:36 p.m. New stay-home order will last 3 weeks minimum where imposed: California’s new regional stay-home order will go into effect within 48 hours in regions with less than 15% intensive care availability. It prohibits “private gatherings of any size” and requires 100% masking and physical distancing in all others, the state said Thursday. The order will remain in effect for at least three weeks and then can be lifted for regions whose projected ICU capacity meets or exceeds 15%.
1:23 p.m. Newsom regional order will affect numerous activities when ICU availability drops: Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new regional order, triggered when a region’s intensive care hospital capacity drops below 15%, will close personal care services such as hair and nail salons, playgrounds, bars and wineries, movie theaters, museums and zoos in those hard-hit areas.
1:18 p.m. California ICU patient load hits a new record: California’s hospitals had 2,066 patients in intensive care units as of Wednesday, the most recent date tallied. The previous record was 2,058 on July 21.
1:10 p.m. ICU capacity dangerously low throughout state: Most of California will see intensive care hospital capacity below 15% before the end of the year, Gov. Gavin Newsom warned at a briefing Thursday. The Bay Area is expected to fall below that level by mid to late December, state data shows. The state cites “early December” as the projected date for these other regions to drop into that zone if they aren’t there already: Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley, Northern California and Southern California.
1 p.m. Stocks wobble: It was not exactly a huge day either way in the stock market, as the S&P 500 fell 0.1% and the other three major indexes rose. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.3%, the Nasdaq 0.2% and the Russell 2000 0.7%.
12:48 p.m. Schools, reduced-capacity retail can open under new state order: California’s new stay-home order will require bars and restaurant dining to stay closed, but schools can remain open if they already have a waiver, along with critical infrastructure, and retail at 20% capacity, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday. “All non essential travel is restricted statewide,” he said. He added, “This is not a permanent state. .. there is light at the end of the tunnel. He also said that he does not anticipate another shutdown occurring down the road. “But we really need to all step up. We need to meet this moment.”
12:46 p.m. Much of California to fall under new stay-home order: Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that much of the state, where intensive care hospital capacity is stressed, must go under a new stay-at-home order upon reaching an ICU benchmark of 15% capacity. Read the details here.
12:24 p.m. S.F. cumulative infections top 16,000: San Francisco confirmed another 209 coronavirus infections on Thursday, a daily level not seen since the summer surge in July, and topped 16,000 cases in all since the start of the pandemic. As the city continues battling its upswing in the deadly virus, it marked 16,001 cumulative infections as of Thursday.
12:13 p.m. Newsom to issue new stay-home order: Gov. Gavin Newsom was set to impose new stay-at-home orders Thursday in areas where intensive care unit capacity is dwindling to try to slow the surging number of coronavirus cases in California, two people who were briefed on the governor’s pending announcement tell The Chronicle. Read the story.
12:15 p.m. Daly City opens new free testing site: A drive-through coronavirus testing site for San Mateo County residents opened this week at Jefferson Union High School District, 699 Serramonte Blvd. in Daly City. The site is open to all residents 5 and older and is offering free tests in a partnership with Curative. The company is using its oral fluid swab — an alternative to nasopharyngeal or brain swabs — which offer results in 24-48-hours. Testing is available by appointment at curative.com.
11:54 a.m. New Zealand lifts all restrictions, says it’s virus free: New Zealand has lifted all social and economic restrictions except border controls after declaring this week it was free of the coronavirus, one of the first countries in the world to return to pre-pandemic normality, Reuters reports. “While the job is not done, there is no denying this is a milestone … Thank you, New Zealand,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
11:30 a.m. Fauci criticizes British vaccine approval process: Dr. Anthony Fauci on Thursday criticized the British government’s decision this week to greenlight Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine as overly hasty, saying it relied too heavily on drugmaker data and lacked sufficient scrutiny. In an interview on “The Takeout” podcast with CBS’ Major Garrett, Fauci argued that the U.K. “kind of ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile.” He added: “They really rushed through that approval.” He called the U.S. FDA approval process “the gold standard.”
11:22 a.m. Hackers go after ‘cold chain’ for vaccines: Sophisticated hackers, assumed to be state agents, have been carrying out a global phishing campaign targeting the vital “cold chain” that will protect coronavirus vaccines during storage and transport, IBM security researchers reported on Thursday. The IBM team said the “precision targeting of executives and key global organizations hold the potential hallmarks of a nation-state tradecraft,” according to the Washington Post. The IBM team said the hackers’ motive was not known.
11:06 a.m. Pelosi, McConnell meet on coronavirus relief: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky talked on Thursday about “their shared commitment” to passing a new coronavirus relief package as soon as possible, a Pelosi spokesman said, the New York Times reports. McConnell has been largely removed from discussions with Pelosi over new stimulus, instead trying for a series of targeted bills. He has stopped short of endorsing a $908 billion compromise plan Democrats embraced on Wednesday, saying it did not represent a genuine concession.
10:58 a.m. Bay Area coronavirus testing delays persist. Who’s to blame? Bay Area hospitals and medical centers are failing to provide timely coronavirus testing during the most recent surge in cases, sometimes forcing people to wait as many as 10 days to complete the test and receive results. Public health officials say these delays are unacceptable during a crisis. Read the whole story here.
10:50 a.m. Breed says criticism of French Laundry trip ‘fair’: San Francisco Mayor London Breed tweeted Thursday that criticism over her recent outing at the French Laundry restaurant with several people was “fair.” “It doesn’t matter whether something is technically allowed or not—I need to hold myself to a higher standard and I will do better,” she said in reference to public health guidelines urging people to stay home. She said what she “especially” regretted was “that the urgency of our public health message in this moment has never been more dire and my actions have distracted from that.”
10:40 a.m. New England Journal hits WHO for remdesivir criticism: The World Health Organization’s decision to recommend against treating COVID-19 patients with remdesivir, the treatment from Foster City’s Gilead, was based on a less-than-conclusive study, a New England Journal of Medicine editorial contends. The WHO’s announcement last month put it at odds with the FDA, which has approved remdesivir for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The editorial by public health experts said WHO based its decision on an international trial that did not account for “variation within and between countries in the standard of care and in the burden of disease in patients who arrive at hospitals.”
10:26 a.m. Walmart to give $700 million in employee bonuses: Walmart announced Thursday that it is giving $700 million in special bonuses to its 1.5 million U.S. employees, compensating them for helping meet a surge in demand for essential goods during the COVID-19 crisis, news accounts report. The company hired hundreds of thousands of new hourly workers during the pandemic. “I’m filled with gratitude for how our associates have led through one of the most trying periods for our company and country,” John Furner, Walmart’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.
10:15 a.m. Fauci expects to stay on as top U.S. infectious disease expert: Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that he will most likely retain his position at National Institutes of Health and has already spoken with incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. Fauci additionally said he has a meeting scheduled with the Joe Biden landing team via Zoom. “Today will be the first time where there will be substantive discussions about the transition between me and the Biden team,” he said in an interview with CBS anchor Major Garrett.
10:09 a.m. How COVID-19 affects choice of health plan: People buying their own health insurance have even more to think about this year, particularly those post-COVID-19 patients with lingering health concerns, the “long haulers,” who join the club of Americans with preexisting conditions. Kaiser Health News reports that many are wondering what type of plan is best for someone with an unpredictable, ongoing medical concern. KNN surveys the landscape.
9:56 a.m. Trump says he would sign relief package: President Trump said Thursday he would sign a coronavirus relief package if Congress can reach a deal after months of gridlock. “I want it to happen, and I believe they’re getting very close to a deal,” Trump said in the Oval Office after awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former football coach Lou Holtz. Asked if he will support a deal, Trump replied, “I will.” Democratic leaders said this week they will back a new bipartisan proposal seeking to provide aide to Americans hurting in the pandemic.
9:50 a.m. How risky is it to attend that holiday party? Calculate it: Japanese epidemiologist Yuki Furuse has created an online tool help people calculate the risk of attending holiday gatherings, based on his research for a scientific paper published this week. The calculator assigns risk by taking into account things like the number of daily new cases in your region, the area’s population, and number of attendees. For example, as of Thursday, a party with 20 people in San Francisco holds an 8.2% probability that at least one infectious person will be there.
9:42 a.m. Lower jobless claims but still way up from a year ago: Another 712,000 people in the U.S. filed for unemployment benefits for the week ending on Nov. 28, Labor Department seasonally adjusted data shows. The number beat expectations, but still represents a huge spike from the 206,000 claims a year ago. In addition to the unemployment claims, there were 288,701 initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance by contractors and self-employed workers.
9:30 a.m. First look at COVID-19 vaccine record card: The Department of Defense has created a COVID-19 vaccination card people can use to track their shot schedules. The cards will be sent out in vaccination kits from Operation Warp Speed. “Everyone will be issued a written card that they can put in their wallet that will tell them what they had and when their next dose is due,” said Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director of the Immunization Action Coalition.
9:20 a.m. Delta Air Lines asks contact tracing information from international travelers: Beginning Dec. 15, Delta will become the first U.S. airline to ask customers traveling to the U.S. from other countries to voluntarily provide five pieces of data to aid contact tracing and public health follow-up efforts, the airline announced Thursday. “The many layers of protection Delta has already put in place are effectively minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and contact tracing adds one more important layer to our efforts to ensure safety throughout travel,” said Bill Lentsch, chief customer experience officer.
9:11 a.m. CDC projects up to 329,000 U.S. deaths in all by Dec. 26: CDC’s latest compilation of national modeling forecasts the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. will reach a total of 303,000 to 329,000 fatalities by the day after Christmas. The forecast anticipates between 9,500 and 19,500 likely COVID-19 deaths natiowide in the week ending Dec. 26.
8:46 a.m. City of L.A. orders residents to stay home: The city of Los Angeles issued a modified stay-at-home order Wednesday night, mirroring L.A. County rules that went into effect Monday. The city order prohibits gatherings of people outside immediate households, with some exceptions such as religious services and protests. The order allows retail businesses to remain open after implementing county public health protocols for in-person shopping.
8:38 a.m. Supreme Court orders review of California church restrictions: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a lower federal court to reexamine California’s coronavirus restrictions on indoor religious services in light of the justices’ recent ruling in favor of New York churches and synagogues. The high court’s unsigned order, with no noted dissent, leaves the California restrictions in place for now. But it throws out a federal district court ruling that rejected a challenge to the limits from a Pasadena ministry with more than 160 churches across the state.
8:27 a.m. Former French president dies of COVID-19 complications: The former president of France, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, a center-right politician who served from 1974to 1981, died on Wednesday from complications of COVID-19. He was 94.
8:19 a.m. Moscow to open vaccination centers this weekend: The Russian capital will open 70 vaccination centers on Saturday with teachers, doctors and social workers first in line to receive the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, Moscow’s mayor said on Thursday. President Vladimir V. Putin ordered a voluntary vaccination program to begin by the end of next week nationwide. Russian authorities drew criticism for proceding with the vaccine without waiting for large-scale efficacy tests to conclude.
8:09 a.m. Pair arrested for flying from SFO to Hawaii despite infection: A Hawaii couple was arrested for second-degree reckless endangerment after they flew to Lihue, Hawaii despite receiving positive coronavirus test results at San Francisco International Airport, Kauai police said. Wesley Moribe and Courtney Peterson boarded a United Airlines flight on Sunday at SFO despite being instructed by airport officials not to do so following their positive tests.
7:55 a.m. Bay Area hospitals better prepared than other areas: Hospitals in the Bay Area, bracing for an unprecedented wave of coronavirus patients, say the region is better prepared to handle the swell than many other areas due to its cautious response to the pandemic. UCSF had 27% of its ICU beds free Wednesday, and 14 of its 189 ICU patients had COVID-19. Still, public officials are warning about an impending shortage of hospital beds and staff. Santa Clara County had just 12% of hospital beds were available — including just 44 in intensive care. Read the story here.
7:40 a.m. Facebook to remove posts containing debunked vaccine claims: Facebook said Thursday it will remove posts containing coronavirus vaccine conspiracy theories and falsehoods. As presumed U.S. approval of vaccines nears, Facebook said it will entirely remove vaccine falsehoods that are debunked by public health experts on Facebook or Instagram. “This is another way that we are applying our policy to remove misinformation about the virus that could lead to imminent physical harm,” the company said in a blog post. “This could include false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects of the vaccines.”
7:25 a.m. Pandemic’s deadliest day in U.S.: The nation recorded 2,804 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, the deadliest day so far since the coronavirus pandemic hit last spring, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University. To date, more than 273,000 Americans have lost their lives to the virus, as it continues to surge across the nation, overburdening hospitals and systems, and creating staff shortages.
7:17 a.m. China secrecy and cronyism dealt crucial blow to early virus response: When the coronavirus hit Wuhan, China, the world’s first outbreak, widespread test shortages and problems at a time when the virus could have been slowed were caused largely by secrecy and cronyism at China’s top disease control agency, an Associated Press investigation has found. Thousands of people waited in lines for hospitals, sometimes next to corpses in hallways. Most could not get a test to be admitted as patients. And tests often produced false negatives.
6:38 a.m. Charts show the evolution of the pandemic in California, Bay Area counties: A look at the progression of the pandemic as a whole shows two clear surges statewide and in most Bay Area counties: one in the summer, and one happening now. The state’s overall trajectory somewhat mirrors that of the Bay Area, especially in the most populous counties. See the data and read the latest from The Chronicle’s Kellie Hwang here.
6:34 a.m. Stocks rise as unemployment numbers fall: New jobless claims fell to 712,000 last week, a pandemic-era low. Stocks rose in response, even as more worrying coronavirus numbers came in.
Updates from Wednesday, Dec. 2:
10 p.m. Obama, Bush and Clinton volunteer to get vaccinated on camera: In an effort to boost public trust in coronavirus vaccines that win federal approval, former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton say they are open to getting vaccinated on camera or in public, CNN reported Wednesday. CNN reached out to former President Jimmy Carter’s representatives to see if he, too, would be open to getting publicly vaccinated.
8:10 p.m. Newsom’s staff member tests positive for coronavirus: Staff members in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office are under quarantine after one tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Wednesday evening. Officials did not release the name and position of the staff member who tested positive on Wednesday afternoon. Governor’s officials said they are working with state public health officials to do contact tracing.
6 p.m. Coronavirus cases soar as state braces for shutdowns, Santa Clara county pushes travel quarantine: Gov. Newsom is expected to order further shutdowns for much of California this week as case counts and hospitalizations continue to surge. No details have been provided, but the restrictions could be dramatic. Read the story here.
4:25 p.m. More than 100,000 COVID-19 patients in U.S. hospitals for the first time: There are 100,226 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 around the country, according to data collected by the COVID Tracking Project. It marks the first time hospitalizations have exceeded 100,000 in the U.S. The number of daily new cases in the U.S. also set a record, according to the organization’s latest tally, which puts the number at 195,695.
3:35 p.m. Testing reveals 48 NBA players infected: The NBA and National Basketball Players Association jointly announced Wednesday that of the 546 players tested for the coronavirus over the past week as part of its league-wide testing program, 48 came back with positive results.
3:19 a.m. Students are not falling behind as expected: Despite fears that children would fall behind after schools closed for in-person instruction in March, new data suggests that most have kept up with learning goals. An analysis by the Northwest Evaluation Association, a nonprofit that provides assessments to school districts, found that most students showed growth in reading assessments but performed about 5 to 10 percentile points lower in math, compared to fall of 2019 scores. The study is based on scores of 4.4 million students in grades 3 through 8, in 46 states. “Our findings show that the impacts of COVID-19 disruptions on student achievement were not the blanket declines many expected,” the authors said.
3:09 p.m. Obama says he’ll get vaccine shot and maybe even film it: Former President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he will take a coronavirus vaccine once one is available and may film it to build confidence in the U.S. about vaccine safety. “I will be taking it and I may take it on TV or have it filmed so people know that I trust this science,” he told SiriusXM’s “The Joe Madison Show.” “What I don’t trust is getting COVID.” Obama’s comment came as polls find many Americans skeptical about receiving the vaccine, especially people of color.
3 p.m. Gloria Estefan infected: Singer and businesswoman Gloria Estefan said Wednesday that she spent much of November in isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus. In a video on Instagram, the Cuban-born singer says she rigorously followed public health protocols, but may have been exposed by a fan who came close to her while not wearing a mask. Estefan, 63, says she had “a little bit of a cough” and dehydration after losing her sense of smell and taste, and has tested negative twice since recovering.
2:57 p.m. New York nursing homes to get top priority: New York plans to prioritize nursing home residents and staff members when it begins distributing the first doses of a vaccine for the coronavirus, hopefully this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday. The state expects to receive 170,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine by Dec. 15, if the pharmaceutical company gets the federal government’s OK for emergency use, Cuomo said.
2:50 p.m. Biden warms of as many as 250,000 more deaths by year’s end: President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday predicted as many as 250,000 deaths by year’s end, without offering details to back it up, a far bleaker projection than that of the CDC and other experts. He made the remarks in a livestreamed roundtable with workers affected by the pandemic, making an appeal to Americans to take the virus seriously. “You cannot be traveling during these holidays, as much as you want to,” he said.
2:31 p.m. Beverly Hills wants to dine out: The Beverly Hills City Council has unanimously voted to oppose Los Angeles County’s outdoor dining ban amid the worst COVID-19 surge the state has seen. The council resolution calls on county supervisors to repeal the ban, the Los Angeles Times reports. The council in its Tuesday action cited the detrimental impact on local businesses and said there was a lack of scientific evidence to support the ban. The council also asked staff to research forming a Beverly Hills public health department, which would allow the city to set its own pandemic health rules.
2:29 p.m. Oakland senior services still available: Senior centers in Oakland are not open for in-person services, based on public health guidance meant to curb spread of the coronavirus. But all centers still are providing pick-up and delivery meals, virtual classes, and information and referral services, officials said Wednesday.
2:21 p.m. Sacramento County Sheriff who opposed state health orders tests positive: Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, a frequent critic of California’s coronavirus restrictions who said he would not enforce Gov. Gavin Newsom’s curfew, has tested positive for the virus, his office confirmed Wednesday. Jones started experiencing symptoms on Friday “after a workplace exposure to an employee that later tested positive.” Jones tested positive Tuesday, KCRA reports. He and his family “will be quarantining,” the release said.
2:14 p.m. Virginia county rejects state virus restrictions: The Campbell County, Va., Board of Supervisors has unanimously rejected state coronavirus restrictions, declaring the county a “First Amendment sanctuary” and ordering local authorities not to enforce Gov. Ralph Northam’s mandates, the Washington Post reports. Northam’s executive orders mandating the wearing of masks during the deadly pandemic, ordering restaurants to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m. and limiting public gatherings to 25 people are “simply not the role of government in a free society,” said Supervisor Charlie Watts at the Tuesday night hearing.
2:05 p.m. Austin mayor takes a trip while urging people to stay home: The mayor of Austin, Texas, Steve Adler went on a family vacation to Mexico in November as he urged people to stay home amid worsening coronavirus caseloads in Texas, at one point recording a video during the trip in which he told residents back home that now was “not the time to relax.” The trip revealed Wednesday by the Austin American-Statesman is the latest example of a public official pleading for pandemic vigilance while taking a different personal approach. Among them, Gov. Gavin Newsom apologized last month for attending a birthday party at a Wine Country restaurant as he urged people to stay with their own households.
1:52 p.m. Pressure on nurses prompts recruitment push: U.S. hospitals slammed with COVID-19 patients are trying to lure nurses and doctors out of retirement, recruiting students and new graduates who have yet to earn their licenses and offering eye-popping salaries in a desperate bid to ease staffing shortages, the Associated Press reports. The number of coronavirus hospital patients has more than doubled over the past month to a record high of nearly 100,000, pushing medical centers and health care workers to the breaking point.
1:48 p.m. S.F. holds off on plan to close hotels for homeless: San Francisco has pulled back on a plan to close hotels for the homeless this month, but the news has done little to curb the uncertainty that many residents still face in 2021. The city had planned to close seven hotels — where about 500 people live — by Dec. 21. But after receiving about $10 million in state assistance, the department said in a tweet and an internal email this weekend that it would extend that timeline. But it’s unclear by how much. Read more details here.
1:40 p.m. Wall Street waits for stimulus: Coming off their best month in three decades, markets are hanging on to high levels as they anticipate an agreement in Washington for additional economic stimulus. The S&P posted a record close of 3,669, rising 0.2%. The Dow also climbed 0.2% but remained down slightly from its record 30,000. The Nasdaq slipped 0.1%. Salesforce was down 8.5% after the Tuesday announcement that it is buying Slack.
1:26 p.m. Trump and Kushner were major beneficiaries of small-business PPP loans: Properties owned by the Trump Organization as well as the Kushner Companies, owned by the family of Jared Kushner, profited from pandemic relief programs intended for small businesses, according to an NBC analysis of data released by the Small Business Administration. Using the dataset that was released after months of litigation, NBC found that over 25 Paycheck Protection Program loans worth more than $3.65 million were given to businesses with addresses at Trump and Kushner real estate properties, paying rent to those owners. Fifteen of the properties self-reported that they only kept one job or zero jobs, or did not report a number at all.
1:14 p.m. Oakland curtails enrichment programs: Oakland parks and recreation officials are suspending indoor Town Camp Enrichment Programs in recreation centers due to the coronavirus surge. Recognizing the burden on some families, officials said in a release Wednesday, “We feel it is gravely necessary for us to play our part to control the spread of COVID-19, for both the customers we serve AND our own staff and their families.” Indoor programming will resume when it’s deemed safe. Outdoor youth programs, including golf and tennis, are continuing. Oakland Head Start remains open for in-person and virtual services, but centers will close for an extended break Dec. 21-Jan 8, and all families will receive virtual programming.
1:01 p.m. Curfew concerns are born of experience: Chronicle columnist Justin Phillips writes that the new 10 p.m. curfew in the Bay Area is concerning from the point of view of minority communities and their experience with police prorities and community attitudes. In fact, he writes, it may be a danger for Black people. Read his take here.
12:47 p.m. Bay Area is cooped up in more ways than one: Add chickens to the list of newly hot, pandemic purchase items for Bay Area consumers. Backyard coops are in vogue and suppliers of cages, mesh wire and chickens themselves are reporting a surge in sales — a 40% increase in chicken wire sales for one seller. Exotic breeds like Polish chickens, with their large crests, or Araucanas, which lay sky-blue eggs, have been sold out for months. Read the full story here.
12:34 p.m. Pelosi, Schumer back bipartisan relief package: Democratic leaders swung behind a bipartisan COVID-19 relief effort Wednesday, cutting their demands for a $2 trillion-plus measure by more than half in hopes of breaking a monthslong logjam and delivering much-sought aid to a hurting nation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer of New York made the announcement in a joint statement aimed at budging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is wedded to a twice-failed $550 million GOP plan.
12:26 p.m. Pfizer CEO urges caution on reopening: Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on Wednesday urged global governments not to reopen economies too quickly due to optimism created by pending COVID-19 vaccines. “Given the pressure to open the economy, (governments) should not make this mistake … and relax immediately,” said Bourla, speaking at an online event hosted in his native Greece. “The vaccine is one tool in controlling this disease…The time that we will have to go back to normality is not far away. But it is definitely not now.”
12:14 a.m. Santa Clara County youth detention facilities report first virus cases: Nine youth detainees and four staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus at Juvenile Hall and William F. James Ranch facilities, Santa Clara County officials said Wednesday. The first was a detainee reporting symptoms on Saturday at James Ranch, followed by a Juvenile Hall detainee with symptoms Monday. All youth “who were in close contact with these individuals were tested and began a 14-day quarantine,” officials said. Read the story here.
12:05 p.m. Santa Clara doubles down on mandatory travel quarantine: Santa Clara County officials on Wednesday doubled down on the county’s new travel directive, which requires a two-week quarantine for travelers entering the county from more than 150 miles away. Exceptions include licensed health care workers and people who work at acute care hospitals, officials said. Travelers who do not stay in the county overnight — such as those waiting for connecting flights — are also exempt. The policy is largely based on the honor code, though residents can report violators, officials said.
11:49 a.m. Moderna begins vaccine trials for teens: Biotech company Moderna is seeking to enroll 3,000 volunteers 12 to 18 years old to test its coronavirus vaccine, according to CNN. Recruitment sites are in six states, including Idaho, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. Moderna is the second company after Pfizer to launch a trial program for children and teens, as required by the federal government ahead of vaccine distribution.
11:44 a.m. Santa Clara County at 88% hospital capacity: The five hospitals that traditionally serve the eastern and southern portions of Santa Clara County collectively have less than a dozen intensive care beds available, “and only 44 ICU beds were available countywide,” county officials said Wednesday. Officials are “very concerned about maintaining hospital capacity,” amid the growing coronavirus surge, “especially given an expected increase in cases after the Thanksgiving holiday,” a release said. The county had 287 COVID-19 hospital patients as of Monday out of 1,955 hospitalized patients overall, with some 88% of total bed capacity used.
11:39 a.m. SFO offers onsite testing for Hong Kong travelers: Passengers departing on Cathay Pacific flights to Hong Kong will be able to obtain polymerase chain reaction tests for the coronavirus at San Francisco International Airport’s onsite facility, the airport announced. The testing will be through a new partnership program with Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care. Hong Kong requires passengers to provide a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours before the scheduled departure flight.
11:29 a.m. Santa Clara County prepares freezer capacity for vaccine: Santa Clara County does not yet know how much coronavirus vaccine it will receive in initial rounds of distribution, but is preparing to store and distribute “the full volume of what we receive,” Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, told a news briefing Wednesday. Freezers are being procured and installed daily in county buildings and other locations to ensure safety of the vaccines, she said. Cold storage is a key issue for vaccines likely to receive earliest approval; they require extremely cold temperatures for viability.
11:14 a.m. Why Britain beat U.S. to vaccine emergency OK: British health authorities approved Pfizer’s new coronavirus vaccine for emergency use while the U.S. is still in the approval process. That’s partly because British and European regulators lean more heavily on companies’ own analyses of safety and efficacy, instead of painstakingly rea-analyzing the raw data as American regulators do, the New York Times reports. Instead of crunching raw-data numbers themselves, the British often will study a drugmaker’s documents and, unless there are anomalies, use them to make their decisions. U.S. regulators use raw data from the trials to validate results, poring through thousands of pages. Still, experts said the British regulators maintained high standards.
10:36 a.m. CDC chief predicts ‘rough times’ with winter tally reaching 450,000 dead: The nation’s coronavirus death toll will mount dramatically this winter, possibly coming close to doubling, CDC Director Robert Redfield predicted Wednesday: “December and January and February are going to be rough times … the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation,” largely because of a stressed health system, he said during a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event. “We’re in that range potentially now, starting to see 1,500 to 2,000 to 2,500 deaths a day from this virus,” he said. “Unfortunately, before we see February, we could be close to 450,000 Americans dead from this virus.” He said people must abide by public health protocols, and he’s disappointed in the politicization over mask wearing. “The time for debating whether or not masks work or not is over. We clearly have scientific evidence,” Redfield said.
10:25 a.m. Pasadena an island of defiance in L.A. County: Pasadena is alone in defying Los Angeles County’s three-week ban on outdoor dining, and broader stay-home order that took effect Monday in the face of a major coronavirus surge. Pasadena restaurants are still serving but a city order effective Wednesday allows outdoor seating only for people from the same household. The county’s health order allows only to-go food except in Pasadena or Long Beach — cities that have their own public health departments and set their own rules. Long Beach also closed outdoor dining and put in place a stay-home order Wednesday that mostly mirrors the county’s: urging people to stay inside, further restricting capacity in stores and banning most public and private gatherings .
10:15 a.m. Vaccines will have minimal side effects, Fauci says: The nation’s top infectious disease expert says people should not worry about side effects that may accompany coronavirus vaccine shots. “With any vaccine, when you get an injection, you induce a response. Some people don’t feel anything. Some people might feel an ache in an arm. Some people will get chills or feel flu-ish. Almost all of this goes away in 24 to 48 hours,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week. Adverse effects are low grade, he said. “They’re not serious. They’re not prolonged. What your body is telling you is it’s responding well to the injection. It’s making the kind of response you want.”
10:01 a.m. Stanford, Cal, USF among teams struggling with basketball obstacles: As sports try to plow ahead amid a pandemic, college basketball’s chaotic first week included widespread cancellations, a mad scramble to reschedule games and tightening restrictions resulting from a national surge in coronavirus cases. Read The Chronicle’s story about how Stanford, Cal, Santa Clara, USF and other local teams are impacted.
9:39 a.m. Fauci honored as one of magazine’s people of the year: People magazine has selected Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as one of its people of the year. The magazine called Fauci, “the doctor America needed in 2020,” and praised his “steady guidance during the pandemic.” As a member of the White House coronavirus task force and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Fauci, who has advised six presidents, also endured barbs from President Trump who disagreed with his science-based coronavirus warnings to the nation.
9:25 a.m. WHO tightens mask guidance: The World Health Organization, in updated guidance, says everyone over 12 should wear face coverings outdoors and indoors, including in businesses and schools, when adequate social distancing and ventilation are not possible. WHO warned, however, a mask alone “is insufficient to provide adequate protection or source control.” Hand washing, physical distancing and refraining from touching one’s face are important to prevent transmission, along with “respiratory etiquette,” indoor ventilation, testing, and quarantine and isolation protocols, the guidance says.
9:19 a.m. CDC underscores need to postpone holiday travel: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging people to put travel plans on hold this winter due to the escalating coronavirus surge. “The best way to protect yourself and others is to postpone travel and stay home,” Dr. Henry Walke, the COVID-19 incident manager, told a news briefing Wednesday. For those who must travel, CDC recommends getting tested one to three days before travel, and again three to five days after. “Testing does not eliminate all risk, but when combined with reducing non-essential activities, symptom screening and continuing with precautions like wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing, it can make travel safer,” Walke said.
9 a.m. Marin County stands alone, but not comfortably: Marin County is the sole Bay Area County that has not fallen into the purple, most restrictive, tier of California coronavirus map. But county health officer Matt Willis calls it “faint praise” to be in the red tier, saying with the current trajectory, Marin could be in the purple as soon as next week. Read The Chronicle’s story on why Marin County has been different.
8:49 a.m. CDC announces new quarantine guidelines: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday announced two “acceptable alternative quarantine periods” for people who come in contact with individuals infected with the coronavirus: People may end their quarantine after 10 days, without a COVID-19 test, if they show no symptoms of the virus. They can end their quarantine after seven days if they get negative test results and show no symptoms. While isolating for 14 days remains the best way to contain the spread, officials said the new shorter options will pose less economic burden on those who must stay home. The shorter quarantines are still effective, they said, as risk of spreading the virus drops significantly after about a week, and is as low as 1% after 10 days.
8:15 a.m. White House task force sends new dire warning: The White House coronavirus task force, in a dire message to states, warns that with virus already rampant across the nation, “a further post-Thanksgiving surge will compromise COVID patient care, as well as medical care overall,” according to the White House report sent to states and obtained by The Hill. The report includes a series of urgent warnings, a stark contrast to President Trump’s largely quiet stance on the coronavirus crisis recently, excepting his comments on vaccine progress.
7:59 a.m. California loses another 116 lives: California recorded another 116 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 19,330 lives lost since the start of the pandemic, as of Wednesday morning. Tuesday’s death toll included 11 lives lost in the Bay Area. Nationwide, more than 270,000 people have died since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University tracking.
7:49 a.m. Rules are for everyone else, but you are fine: The Chronicle’s Soleil Ho takes a satirical look at coronavirus hypocrisy emerging among public officials, a posture that finds some California leaders straying from what they tell everyone else to do. Read the story here.
7:41 a.m. Biden adviser says racial equity central to virus fight: A top adviser to President-elect Joe Biden says racial equity must be central to pandemic response. Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, an expert on health care inequality at Yale University, told Associated Press that testing and vaccination programs ust consider fairness and equity along with efficiency in order to be truly effective. The approach echoes what California already has emphasized in its reopening blueprint metrics, which require counties to make progress in disadvantaged neighborhoods, including minority communities.
7:33 a.m. Trump’s empathy deficit on virus cost election, former manager says: Brad Parscale, President Trump’s former campaign manager, told Fox News on Tuesday night that Trump would have handily won the election if he had expressed more empathy about the coronavirus pandemic. “We lost suburban families,” Parscale said. “I think that goes to one thing: the decision on COVID to go for opening the economy versus public empathy.”
7:18 a.m. Push for teachers to get vaccine priority: San Francisco officials are pushing to prioritize teachers just behind health care workers in getting a free COVID-19 vaccine. A proposed San Francisco Board of Supervisors resolution would urge Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials to prioritize teachers for the first rounds of vaccines so that schools can reopen as soon as possible.
7:02 a.m. Britain OKs Pfizer vaccine emergency use: Britain authorized the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech for emergency use Wednesday, greenlighting the first shot backed up by rigorous scientific review. The first vaccinations are expected within days — a major step toward eventually ending the pandemic. Officials cautioned that several tough months still lie ahead, even in Britain, given the scale of the operation needed to vaccinate large swaths of the population. The same vaccine is awaiting emergency use approval in the U.S.
6:47 a.m. Stocks pull back: The Dow dropped more than 200 points before recovering this morning. Salesforce, a Dow component, fell 10% in early trading after it announced an acquisition of Slack, a big bet on working from home.
Updates from Tuesday, Dec. 1:
5:15 p.m. S.F. officials cancel annual tree-lighting ceremony at Golden Gate Park: The traditional tree lighting event outside of McLaren Lodge in Golden Gate Park will not take place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced on Tuesday. But the tree, located on the east entrance of the park, will be lit for the holiday season without the usual fanfare.
4:56 p.m. Los Angeles County suffers its ‘worst day’ of pandemic: County officials reported the highest number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic on Tuesday, with 7,593 new cases and 2,316 hospitalizations, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health. “Today, Tuesday, December 1, 2020, is the worst day thus far of the COVID-19 pandemic in Los Angeles County,” the county’s Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “However, it will likely not remain the worst day of the pandemic in Los Angeles County. That will be tomorrow
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