Bay Area news | COVID-19-related and more

The PGA Tournament, scheduled to take place in San Francisco in May, has been postponed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

TUESDAY NEWS ROUNDUP

  • Accuracy of 2020 Census count at risk by coronavirus: Along with nearly every facet of American life, the 2020 U.S. Census is being reshaped — sometimes in complex and unforeseen ways — by the COVID-19 coronavirus and people’s response to it. The decennial effort to count every person living in the United States kicked off last Thursday, when tens of millions of invitations to participate were sent out across the country. But over the past few days, as local and state governments began implementing measures to slow the spread of the virus, people working on census outreach efforts have been frantically trying to find ways to ensure a full and accurate count.
  • Sonoma County orders shelter-in-place: Sonoma is planning to join seven other counties in the Bay Area Tuesday that issued shelter-in-place orders to residents to restrict the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Interim Public Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said the order is still being drafted but it will take effect Wednesday shortly after midnight. The shelter-in-place orders generally restrict public activities to meeting essential daily needs and order people to work from home for three weeks unless they perform essential services. The counties that have adopted the shelter-in-place orders include Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara Santa Cruz, San Francisco and San Mateo. Berkeley and Oakland also have issued the orders. Mase recommended the county issue the shelter-in-place order after a meeting Tuesday morning. The County has six cases of the coronavirus as of Tuesday.
  • Utilities give customers a reprieve in COVID-19 crisis: California residents who are not able to pay their water, sewer, energy or communications bills during the state’s novel coronavirus state of emergency will not be at risk of having their services shut off, the California Public Utilities Commission said Tuesday. CPUC officials confirmed that, retroactive to March 4, utility companies under the commission’s jurisdiction will not be allowed to suspend or disconnect service for ratepayers who cannot pay their bills during the virus outbreak. Companies in the commission’s jurisdiction include PG&E, AT&T, Comcast and the San Jose Water Company.
  • SF called on to provide additional support to vulnerable communities: A coalition of labor rights and community groups called on the city San Francisco on Tuesday to provide additional support to vulnerable communities during the shelter-in-place order intended to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The coalition — including groups like Jobs and Justice San Francisco, Senior and Disability Action and United Educators of San Francisco — released a list of 10 demands for San Francisco’s government, arguing that disabled people, low-income residents and homeless residents will be particularly affected by the shelter-in-place order and its ramifications. The list of demands includes making information easily accessible in several languages, ensuring the delivery of food and medication to those who need them most, funding paid leave and financial support, a full moratorium on evictions and displacements, and sheltering homeless residents in hotels and vacant housing units.
  • The 2020 PGA Championship golf tournament postponed: Tourney had been scheduled to take place in San Francisco in May, and has been postponed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the PGA of America announced Tuesday. The tournament and various events leading up to it were set for May 11-17 at TPC Harding Park. A new date has not yet been set.
  • BART ridership continued to fall Monday as the Bay Area braced for a shelter-in-place order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. The agency tallied 118,572 riders Monday, a 70 percent drop from ridership on an average Monday in February, which was 399,397. BART ridership was also down 61 percent on Saturday and Sunday compared to an average weekend day from the previous month. The agency will continue running its regular schedule to ensure essential workers can still commute to their jobs during the three-week shelter-in-place order that went into effect Tuesday. BART assured potential riders that both its stations and trains are not crowded to allow riders to practice social distancing to avoid spreading the virus. BART Board Director Rebecca Saltzman said the agency lost $5 million due to falling ridership last week and is expected to lose even more in the coming weeks as fewer people commute to work.
  • Uptick in coronavirus-related scams: The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office is reporting an increase in scams via phone, email or website that promise important information about the novel coronavirus pandemic but instead attempt to steal passwords and other personal information. People are advised to be highly skeptical of emails or websites offering information or goods related to the pandemic, and to confirm the primary source of the communication, according to the sheriff’s office. The sheriff’s office also never asks for money over the phone, and recommends that people never provide personal information, such as Social Security or credit card numbers, unless they initiated the call. Anyone who receives a scam call or email or would like more information is asked to call (650) 363-4911.
  • Jail visits suspended to halt spread: The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office is suspending all visits to inmates at two jails in San Jose and Milpitas until April 7 while the county remains under a shelter in place order first announced Monday and enacted Tuesday. The county’s main jail at 150 W. Hedding St. in San Jose and the Elmwood Correctional Complex at 701 S. Abel St. in Milpitas will be closed to visitation while the order is in place, but legal visits without contact at windows will continue as scheduled, the sheriff’s office said Tuesday. Sheriff’s officials also said there are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the county’s jails, but that three inmates are under 14-day isolation after possible exposure to the virus from a visitor who tested positive for the disease.

And in non-COVID-19 news:

  • Shipping group seeks to slow plans for A’s new stadium: A coalition of shipping, trucking and steel companies has filed a lawsuit aimed at stopping the fast-tracking of an environmental review of the Oakland A’s plan to build a new baseball stadium at the Howard Terminal north of Jack London Square. The A’s, who currently play at the aging stadium at the Oakland Coliseum complex, hope to build a new stadium at the Howard Terminal site in time for the 2023 baseball season. The lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court on Monday opposes the A’s submission to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Office of Planning and Research last week seeking Assembly Bill 734 fast-track certification of the Howard Terminal site by Newsom. AB 734 was authored by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, and was passed by the state Assembly and signed by former Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018. It aimed to streamline the process for reviewing environmental lawsuits filed against the Howard Terminal project.
  • Convicted of spying for China, a Hayward resident is sentenced: Xuehua Peng, also known as Edward Peng, 56, was sentenced in federal court in Oakland Monday to four years in prison for acting as an agent of the People’s Republic of China. Peng acted as a courier by picking up digital memory cards hidden in hotel rooms in Newark, Oakland and Georgia and flying with them to Beijing on five occasions between 2015 and 2018, according to court documents. In four of the transactions, known as “dead drops,” he left payments of $10,000 or $20,000 provided by China for the unnamed person who left the cards. The unnamed collaborator was actually a double agent working for both China and the United States. All of the transactions as well as a preliminary test run at a Newark hotel were surveilled and in some cases videotaped by the FBI, and the information on the cards was carefully chosen by the government, according to a criminal complaint filed in September.

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