Bottoms up

Mar 31, 2020

The Bay Area is drinking 42% more alcohol than usual while sheltering in place


From the Chronicle's ESTHER MOBLEY: "You aren’t the only one who’s been drinking more.


During the first week of sheltering in place, Bay Area residents drank more alcohol than usual — 42% more than usual, in fact, according to data from BACtrack, a San Francisco company that produces smartphone-connected breathalyzer devices.


The idea for the study came from people’s anecdotal impressions that drinking was up, said BACtrack CEO Keith Nothacker. “We said, let’s go check the data. Sure enough, drinking had exploded post-shelter-in-place.”


 Virus cases in California ICUs double overnight as manufacturers race to fill shortages


Sac Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG: "The number of coronavirus patients in California intensive care units doubled overnight and manufacturers are stepping up to build equipment like ventilators to fill hospital shortages, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Saturday.


He spoke from a Bloom Energy facility in Sunnyvale retrofitted to refurbish ventilators unusable after sitting idle for years in government stockpiles. Days before, the company had used the room for storage.


As Newsom talked, employees behind him wearing white coats and masks repaired machines."


READ MORE related to COVID-19: Global tally of COVID-19 cases surpasses 800K, with more than 38,700 deaths -- The Chronicle's ALEJANDRO SERRANO/RACHEL SWANSacramento County cases have doubled now in 5 days. Another death reported -- Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAKSacramento virus fund has raised more than half a mil. Here's where the money is going -- Sac Bee's THERESA CLIFT; California, you're doing a great job staying home, tracking data show. (Except these places) -- Sac Bee's RYAN SABALOW; Bay Area shelter-in-place orders extended to at least May 1 -- The Chronicle's DOMINIC FRACASSA; A choir decided to go ahead with rehearsal. Now dozens of members have COVID-19 and two are dead -- LA Times's RICHARD READ; Social distancing may have helped California slow the virus and avoid New York's fate -- LA Times's RONG-GONG LIN II/SOUMYA KARLAMANGLA/SEAN GREENE/JAMES RAINEY


15,000 LA high school students are AWOL online, 40,000 fail to check in daily amid pandemic closures


LA Times's HOWARD BLUME/SONALI KOHLI: "About 15,000 Los Angeles high school students are absent online and have failed to do any schoolwork while more than 40,000 have not been in daily contact with their teachers since March 16, when the coronavirus forced campus shutdowns, district officials disclosed Monday.


Those figures, the first official data on student online participation, reveal the massive challenge confronting the nation’s second-largest schools district, which is attempting an overnight transition to “distance learning” for half a million students, the vast majority from low-income families, many lacking computers and internet access.


Though it’s still early, the numbers demonstrate how the digital divide among underserved students as well many students’ lack of engagement and strong personal connection to their classes will likely contribute to a deepening and worrisome achievement gap, education experts said."


Captain of aircraft carrier with growing COVID-19 outbreak pleads for help from Navy


The Chronicle's MATTHIAS GAFNI/JOE GAROFOLI: "The captain of a nuclear aircraft carrier with more than 100 sailors infected with the coronavirus pleaded Monday with U.S. Navy officials for resources to allow isolation of his entire crew and avoid possible deaths in a situation he described as quickly deteriorating.


The unusual plea from Capt. Brett Crozier, a Santa Rosa native, came in a letter obtained exclusively by The Chronicle and confirmed by a senior officer on board the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, which has been docked in Guam following a COVID-19 outbreak among the crew of more than 4,000 less than a week ago.


“This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do,” Crozier wrote. “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”


Before COVID-19, California let 1 in 4 of its public health labs close


Sac Bee's HANNAH WILEY: "Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for “targeted testing” of the new coronavirus, arguing a strategic approach will help public health officials find hot spots and determine how and where the pandemic is spreading.


But in the two decades leading up to the COVID-19 outbreak, 11 of California’s public health labs designed for the focused testing Newsom wants closed their doors.


California now relies on 29 county and city public health labs, along with the California State Laboratory in Richmond, to serve 40 million people."


READ MORE related to Health: California launches Health Corps, loosens rules for medical professionals amid pandemic   -- LA Times's MELODY GUTIERREZ; 'Thousands and thousands' more health workers needed to fight pandemic, Newsom says -- Sac Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG; Older and retired doctors and nurses leaping to the call for help in pandemic crisis -- The Chronicle's KEVIN FAGAN; Hospitalizations spike as California tries to slow pandemic spread -- LA Times's MELODY GUTIERREZ/JACK DOLAN/MARISA GERBER/COLLEEN SHALBY


PG&E says Camp Fire criminal fine won't be paid with victims' fund 


The Chronicle's J.D. MORRIS: "PG&E Corp. said Monday that it no longer plans to pay $4 million related to the 2018 Camp Fire criminal case from a $13.5 billion trust intended to compensate individual fire victims.


Instead, the cost will be borne by insurance companies who are party to a separate $11 billion settlement in PG&E’s bankruptcy case, the company said in a statement.


The announcement came one week after the company revealed that its Pacific Gas and Electric Co. subsidiary will plead guilty to 85 felony counts, all but one for involuntary manslaughter, over the Camp Fire. As part of its plea deal, PG&E agreed to pay the maximum statutory fine of about $3.5 million and another $500,000 to reimburse the Butte County District Attorney’s Office."


Newsom sticks to pressure, not force, in California's pandemic shutdown


LA Times's TARYN LUNA/PHIL WILLON: "In addressing the coronavirus crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom has been steadfast in contending that his stay-at-home order should be enforced through persuasion, not punishment.


And instead of calling on the National Guard to patrol the streets, the 52-year-old Democrat continues to enlist Californians to pressure one another to “bend the curve.”


“That social pressure we’re seeing out there for people to do the right thing is the most powerful enforcement tool we have and we’ll continue to use that as our moral authority advanced all throughout the state of California,” Newsom said Monday."


New rulings amid pandemic could force Trump to release migrant children and parents


LA Times's MOLLY O'TOOLE/CINDY CARCAMO: "A federal judge in Los Angeles has given the Trump administration until April 6 to deliver an account of why it can’t quickly release many of the roughly 7,000 immigrant children at risk of contracting the coronavirus in shelters and detention facilities across the U.S., and unite them with waiting sponsors.


On Monday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., expanded the ruling to apply to their detained parents as well.


The Justice Department declined to comment Monday on whether the administration planned to appeal in either case, both of which also mandate oversight of the detention facilities’ preparedness for the pandemic. The White House did not respond."


SF looks to limit construction as virus restrictions are extended


The Chronicle's J.K. DINEEN: "While San Francisco was a leader in imposing the country’s earliest and strictest stay-at-home orders to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the city has been much more lenient than places like New York and Washington, D.C., when it comes to allowing construction to go forward.


That may soon change.


Public health officials are preparing an updated order that will likely be far more restrictive in terms of what types of construction are allowed and what are not, according to Supervisor Aaron Peskin and others involved in the talks. While the details are still in flux, the order will likely be similar to that of New York and Washington, D.C., which narrowed allowable projects to “roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters."


READ MORE related to Economy: Airbnb will give $250M to hosts who lost income due to COVID-19 -- Bloomberg's ERIC NEWCOMERMany Sacramento County workers in offices amid pandemic -- Sac Bee's ALEXANDRA YOON-HENDRICKS


Trump to roll back fuel economy standards, reversing major effort to combat climate change


LA Times's ANNA M PHILLIPS: "The Trump administration, scrambling as deadlines approach, plans soon to release rules on fuel efficiency for new cars and trucks that have pitted the federal government against California on a policy key to combating climate change.


The announcement, expected as early as Tuesday, follows months of struggle by the administration to justify the proposed changes. The administration’s own experts have warned that the proposal to weaken fuel-efficiency standards will lead to dirtier air and potentially cost the auto industry tens of thousands of jobs.


The new rules come despite the economic turmoil and growing death toll currently being caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal to roll back fuel economy rules would be among the biggest steps the administration has taken to reverse an existing environmental policy. It’s been pushed within the administration by officials with strong beliefs about the benefits of reducing regulations, some of whom also have long-standing ties to the fossil-fuel industry."


Judge won't free Aryan Brotherhood defendant from 'filthy, disgusting' Sacramento jail


Sac Bee's SAM STANTON: "Rejecting claims by a Sacramento County Jail inmate that his life is in danger in the jail because of coronavirus, a federal judge on Monday refused to let the inmate await trial in home detention.


Samuel Keeton, who is being held in the jail on federal drug charges connected to a prosecution of Aryan Brotherhood prison gang leaders, had sought permission to be released to home detention because he has asthma and feared that condition could lead to his death if he contracts COVID-19 in the jail.


But U.S. Magistrate Judge Edmund F. Brennan found Keeton remains a flight risk and danger to the community if released, and noted that Keeton had failed in several other bail review hearings to win release."


READ MORE related to Public Safety: As virus roils courts, prosecutors and public defenders fume about state directives -- LA Times's MAURA DOLANAs counties released inmates amid pandemic, Solano County picked them up and brought them to its jails -- The Chronicle's MEGAN CASSIDY; Fearing the pandemic, Michael Avenatti, R Kelly and other celebrity inmates seek early release -- LA Times's MICHAEL FINNEGAN


Trump rejects congressional oversight of $500B in corporate relief


The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "The coronavirus financial aid package that landed on President Trump’s desk last week included a $500 billion corporate-loan fund that contained a major downside for his administration: Congressional Democrats had pushed for increased oversight of the loans, with a federal investigator designated to report to lawmakers on uses of the funding.


So Trump, in endorsing the legislation Saturday, turned to a device he has used in record numbers during his tenure, the presidential “signing statement,” to solve his concerns. He signed the bill into law, but in the accompanying statement, he said he would not be bound by provisions that interfered with executive authority.'


Trump said he would not allow an inspector general to report to Congress because the Constitution, in his view, requires “presidential supervision” of such information."


READ MORE related to POTUS45/Feds: Trump's mixed messages confuse pandemic response -- LA Times's NOAH BIERMAN/CHRIS MEGERIAN

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