The Chronicle’s Live Updates page documents the latest events in the coronavirus outbreak in the Bay Area, the state of California and across the U.S. with a focus on health and economic impacts.
Resources on COVID-19 and California’s reopening: Use our interactive page to track the state and Bay Area’s reopening by county. For detailed maps and new city-by-city Bay Area data, check out The Chronicle’s Coronavirus Tracker. Find Bay Area COVID-19 testing sites that don’t require doctor referrals in our interactive map. To get regular updates on our coverage, sign up for our coronavirus newsletter.
Total coronavirus cases:
• 2,208,052 cases in California, including 24,568 deaths
• 254,364 cases in the Bay Area, including 2,441 deaths. Click on the Chronicle’s Coronavirus Tracker for a U.S. map and state by state case count and tally of deaths.
Latest updates from today:
7:23 p.m. Louisiana congressman-elect dies after 11-day battle with coronavirus: Congressman-elect Luke Letlow died in a Louisiana hospital Tuesday, less than a week before he was scheduled to be sworn into his first term in office. Letlow, 41, was hospitalized in intensive care after testing positive for the virus on Dec. 18. He leaves behind a wife and two small children. The Republican representative-to-be generally wore a mask, but campaigned at events where many voters did not, reported The Advocate, Louisiana’s largest daily newspaper.
7:09 p.m. San Francisco biotech firm researching coronavirus expands: Vir Biotechnology, which is studying an antibody treatment for COVID-19, signed a sublease for 133,896 square feet in Mission Bay. Vir will sublease space from Dropbox, which has shifted to remote work.
4:11 p.m. California’s December death toll reaches record levels as coronavirus pandemic enters ‘period of extreme difficulty’: December has been the deadliest month yet for the coronavirus in California, with the state reporting more than 5,300 COVID deaths so far. That surpasses the previous monthly high of about 3,800 deaths in August. Read the story here.
3:47 p.m. California now leading U.S. in rate of infection: California’s coronavirus case rate now far outpaces every other state in the nation, and it is one of just a handful of states where cases per day are still increasing. California is just shy of 100 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, compared to the state’s 8 cases per 100,000 at the start of October. Read the full story here.
3:35 p.m. New Mexico fines churches that had large Christmas services: Health officials in New Mexico have fined two churches in Albuquerque for violating public health orders aimed at stopping coronavirus transmission after both venues held large Christmas gatherings. Legacy Church and Calvary Church each were hit with a $5,000 fine Monday after photos and video showed violations of capacity limits and mask and social distancing mandates.
3:29 p.m. What does 0% hospital ICU capacity really mean? California shows statewide hospital intensive care units at 0% capacity. But that does not mean there are absolutely no beds. Several regions, including the Bay Area, still have some beds available. Read the discussion here on what this data means and how the state determines the ICU capacity numbers.
3:24 p.m. Air travel down in Bay Area: The Bay Area’s spike in coronavirus cases appears to be keeping many travelers home, with holiday traffic at SFO plunging 81% compared to 2019, more than the national decline. Between Dec. 20 and 28, 132,863 people traveled through SFO, compared to 708,017 travelers in 2019. The air travel was also down about 15% compared to Thanksgiving this year. Read the details here.
3:14 p.m. Study shows California “excess” deaths over six months: In first six months of the pandemic, nearly 20,000 more California residents died than would have been expected in a regular year, according to a new study from UCSF researchers. The state has recorded 24,568 coronavirus deaths. Despite that still-climbing toll, the UCSF analysis found that the state’s first lockdown March 18-May 9 helped lower excess deaths for most but not all groups. Read the full story here.
3:01 p.m. Color tiers still here, even with regional stay home orders: California remains a sea of purple on the state’s color-coded reopening blueprint, with 54 of the 58 counties still remaining in the purple, most restrictive, category for progress on coronavirus metrics. State officials said Tuesday that just one county’s progress earned its way out of purple, into the red, next-most-restrictive category, as Humboldt joined Alpine and Mariposa counties. Only Sierra County is in orange, the second least restrictive tier. Each category has its own requirements for what activities can be open and closed, outside and indoors, to prevent coronavirus transmission.
2:29 p.m. How counties can get out of stay-home order status: With all but the state’s northernmost counties under mandatory stay-at-home orders, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the California health secretary, on Tuesday laid out the criteria state officials are using to lift the orders. After a region has been in stay-home status for three weeks, officials project whether the region will maintain its hospital intensive care availability at 15% or above four weeks out. Criteria used to make the determination are current ICU capacity and admission rates, the region’s 7-day average coronavirus case rate, and its transmission rate. The Bay Area will be eligible to be considered for exit no sooner than Jan. 8.
2:13 p.m. Colorado governor confirms U.K. virus in state: Gov. Jared Polis announced on Tuesday that the first confirmed case in the U.S. of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, the more infectious strain of the coronavirus discovered in the U.K., was found in his state. “The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely,” he said.
2:03 p.m. Mutant strain seen in England now reported in Colorado: The first known U.S. case of the highly transmissible variant of COVID-19 discovered in the U.K. has been reported in Colorado, according to Stat. The strain is fast-moving but scientists so far say it does not seem likely to resist the newly aproved coronavirus vaccines.
1:33 p.m. S.F. sees results from stay-at-home order: Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s director of health, said Tuesday that pandemic stay-home restrictions are having an impact in San Francisco. The city’s so-called R0 rate — the average number of people who will be infected by an infected person — has dropped from 1.45 on Dec. 5 to 1.13 on Dec. 26, and city officials expect it to be 1.0 by Jan. 1. “We need to make this progress continue,” Colfax told a briefing, urging people to continue sheltering. “If we are able to do that by the New Year we will continue to save lives and hospitalizations. He said the city is “in the middle of our worst surge yet … but we are also seeing indications that this surge may have reached a peak.”
1:20 p.m. Biden previews greatest ever operational challenge: President-elect Joe Biden predicted Tuesday that getting the U.S. vaccinated against the coronavirus would be “the greatest operational challenge we’ve ever faced as a nation — but were going to get it done.” In public remarks from Delaware, he criticized the Trump administration’s pace in getting shots to people as a “travesty,” with only 2.1 million doses so far administered this month. Even if the number was raised to 1 million every day, he noted, it would still take months to get the population vaccinated. He said he’ll use the Defense Production Act to speed production and will “move heaven and earth” to get more people vaccinated quickly.
1:17 p.m. Stocks drop as relief hopes fade: The prospect of further coronavirus aid dimmed Tuesday as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked initial efforts for follow-on legislation that would expand individual stimulus payments. Shares gave back their early gains as the major stock indexes all ended the day in the red.
1:15 p.m. Vaccinations to begin at Laguna Honda Hospital next week: Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s top public health expert, said Tuesday that more than 4,000 frontline workers in the city have been vaccinated. He said he didn’t have details on the full vaccination rollout in the city. He added that vaccinations will begin next week for staff and residents at Laguna Honda Hospital, a senior care facility in the city.
12:59 p.m. Care rationing not yet happening, state health leader says: Hospitals in Southern California “are in crisis” but state officials have not been alerted to any care rationing, state health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday. Some hospitals are implementing parts of “crisis care,” he told a briefing, “whether those are decisions about how ambulances are received into the facility or how stretched staff become to care for patients, looking at the effectiveness of certain treatments for certain patients who are unlikely to survive or do well — that is happening in facilities in Southern California.” He added, however, “We have not heard yet that any hospital is at the point where they need to make a decision between two patients who both need a ventilator and they only have one ventilator … any of those sort of situations” on rationing care. “Those decisions are not being made across California, but we certainly know that Southern California hospitals are in crisis and some have begun to implement parts of crisis care.”
12:46 p.m. L.A.-area hospitals drowning: The Los Angeles Times describes dire conditions at Los Angeles County hospitals besieged by coronavirus patients, with some so inundated that they have resorted to placing patients in conference rooms and gift shops. Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center had no beds for at least 30 patients needing intensive or intermediate care and shut its doors to all ambulance traffic for 12 hours over the weekend. Some patients, including the very sick who required intensive oxygen, waited as 18 hours to get into ICU. Memorial Hospital of Gardena on Monday was running at 140% capacity, forcing officials to ask for a four-hour suspension of new ambulance calls.
12:36 p.m. Bay Area inches up to 10.4% ICU capacity: Bay Area hospital capacity in intensive care units edged up to 10.4%, state data showed Tuesday, up from 9.5% a day earlier. The greater Sacramento region moved up to 19.1%, from 16.6%. The San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions remained at zero percent capacity in ICU units. The Northern California region had 27.9% ICU availability and remains the only region not under the state’s regional stay-at-home order.
12:25 p.m. Two regions can’t exit under stay-home order: San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions will remain under the state’s mandatory stay-home regional order going forward because state projections show they will not have sufficient intensive care capacity to handle patient demand four weeks out, Dr. Mark Ghaly announced Tuesday.
12:18 p.m. Case numbers may be stabilizing in state: California’s health secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, said Tuesday that public health officials are “some signs that the case numbers are stabilizing,” in the state. The 7-day average for new coronavirus cases was 37,459 for the past week.
12:13 p.m. Hospitalizations jump 36.5% in 14 days: California’s patient load for COVID-19 patients in hospitals has jumped 35.5% in the past 14 days, and intensive care patient numbers have risen 35%, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s top health official, told a briefing Tuesday. In contrast to the usual “conventional’ care,” Ghaly said, “Most hospitals today are operating at ‘contingency’ care. Space is being used for other types of care, such as COVID patients. Single occupancy rooms converted to double. Staff working longer shift. “Resuing supplies that you would otherwise dispose of.”
11:40 a.m. Iran tests new vaccine: The first study of the safety and effectiveness of a coronavirus vaccine in Iran began Tuesday, state TV reported, with dozens due to receive the domestically developed shot even as details about its production remained slim. The vaccine, the first in the country to reach human trials, is produced by Shifa Pharmed, part of a state-owned pharmaceutical conglomerate known as Barekat.
11:30 a.m. S.F. Exploratorium to host online vaccine roundtable: The Exploratorium in San Francisco will hold a free online discussion and live Q&A on the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 14. Discussing vaccine safety, efficacy and rollout will be UCSF’s Dr. Bob Wachter, chair of the department of medicine, and Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, epidemiology and biostatistics chair, The event will be broadcast on YouTube and the Exploratorium’s Facebook Page, with a live Q&A with viewers.
11:12 a.m. Coronavirus concerns postpone SoCal’s BNP tennis tournament: The BNP Paribas Open, featuring the men’s and women’s pro tennis tours, is postponed from its March 8-11 date at Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Tournament organizers said Tuesday they are working with the sponsor and ATP and WTA tours on later dates in Indian Wells (Riverside County). Read the full story here.
10:22 a.m. McConnell blocks consideration of $2,000 relief checks: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., refused to allow immediate consideration Tuesday of legislation to boost stimulus checks for Americans to $2,000. He refused Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer’s call for the chamber to begin consideration of a plan the House passed with bipartisan support and backing from President Trump. “I don’t want to hear it costs too much to give working families a check when they are struggling,” said Schumer. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., indicated he would filibuster to keep the Senate in session until a vote was held.
10 a.m. LA County extends stay-at-home order in anticipation of state mandate: Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer has preemptively and indefinitely extended the county’s stay-at-home order in anticipation of the state continuing the mandate for the Southern California region on Tuesday. The region has zero percent ICU capacity, and Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that 96% of LA County’s hospitals are diverting patients. The region could have been eligible to lift the stay-home restrictions as soon as Tuesday only if it maintained ICU capacity above 15%.
9:56 a.m. EU to buy 100 million more doses of Pfizer vaccine: The European Union announced Tuesday it will purchase an additional 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, as the bloc of 27 nations lauches its effort to vaccinate its 450 million people. The addition brings the EU’s total to 300 million doses of the vaccine.
9:49 a.m. U.K. hits new high for single-day infections: The United Kingdom confirmed a record 53,135 new infections on Tuesday, and 414 deaths, according to public health data. It’s the first time the country has recorded more than 50,000 cases in one day, and surpasses the previous record of 41,385 new cases on Monday. The U.K. has recorded 71,567 coronavirus deaths to date. The unprecedented level of infection across the U.K. “is of extreme concern particularly as our hospitals are at their most vulnerable,” said Dr. Susan Hopkins, senior medical advisor for Public Health England.
9:40 a.m. Pandemic lesson is that more will come, WHO official says: The head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program is warning that the devastating coronavirus pandemic could be just a foreshadowing of even worse crises. Michael Ryan said that shocking though it may be to anticipate a worse pandemic — as the current one claims more than 1.7 million lives so far — “These threats will continue.” He added, “If there’s one thing we need to take from this pandemic … is that we need to get our act together. We need to get ready for something that may even be more severe in the future.”
9:15 a.m. L.A. County imposes travel quarantine: Los Angeles County is the latest in California to impose quarantine rules for travelers arriving or residents reentering the county. Anyone entering must now quarantine at home, with no visitors, for 10 days “because of the likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 while traveling outside of L.A County,” a health department statement said Monday. The county now is consistently seeing more than 13,000 new infections a day, some days more than 15,000 cases, compared to an average of about 1,200 cases a day two months ago, officials said. “On average, 9 to 10 people in L.A. County test positive for COVID-19 every minute or, 540 to 600 people test positive every hour.”
8:55 a.m. French horn player’s side hustle is virus research: San Francisco Symphony’s new associate principal French horn player hasn’t had a lot of chances to perform, as the pandemic devastated live performance schedules not long after his arrival in September. But it turns out his medical degree and a Ph.D. in virology made him a perfect fit for another job — COVID-19 researcher at the Rosenberg Lab at UCSF. Read the full story from The Chronicle’s Joshua Kosman here.
8:43 a.m. Death toll in U.S. tops 335,000: More than 335,000 Americans now have lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic, including 1,718 deaths recorded on Monday, tracking from Johns Hopkins University shows. Globally, the coronavirus has taken more than 1.7 million lives.
8:33 a.m. Monterey aquarium loans freezer to hospital for vaccine: When the ultra cold freezer that Natividad Hospital had ordered did not arrive in time to store temperature-sensitive coronavirus vaccine, the Monterey Bay Aquarium stepped in to help the Salinas hospital, KGO reported. The aquarium loaned the hospital, which is operated by Monterey County, a large freezer normally used in its animal husbandry clinic, and it’s now used to story the life-saving vaccine.
8:19 a.m. Fauci says vaccine rollout ‘below where we want to be’: Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that he is hopeful the pace of coronavirus vaccination picks up because it’s “certainly not at the numbers that we wanted to be at the end of December.” The administration said 20 million shots would be administered by the end of the year. The number stood at 2.1 million as of Monday morrning. “Even if you undercount, 2 million as an undercount, how much undercount could it be,” Fauci told CNN. “So, we are below where we want to be.” At the current pace it would take years to vaccinate the numbers of people needed to reach herd immunity.
8:05 a.m. “I barely felt it,” Harris says: Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received a vaccination shot against the coronavirus on Tuesday, with TV cameras recording the moment at United Medical Center in Washington, D.C. “It is relatively painless. It is safe,” Harris said after cheerfully raising her arm for the needle containing Moderna’s vaccine. “Literally this is about saving lives,” she said. In a bid to assuage hesitance, particularly in the black community, that’s been reported about the vaccine, she added, “I trust the scientists.”
7:55 a.m. Stocks hit records on relief expansion: The major indexes briefly rose to new heights after the House passed an expansion of the new coronavirus relief bill seeking $2,000 payments for individuals. After rising in early trading, shares pulled back, with the Nasdaq and S&P 500 in the red and the Dow nearly flat.
7:45 a.m. Russian death toll far higher than announced: New figures from the state statistical agency in Moscow indicate that COVID-19 has killed more than three times as many people as officially reported, the New York Times reports. The nation’s deaths January to November numbered 229,732 more than last year; a deputy prime minister told a government briefing Monday that more than 81 percent of that jump was “due to COVID,” which would mean that the virus had killed more than 186,000 Russians so far this year.
7:30 a.m. L.A. County asks film industry to postpone shoots: Los Angeles County public health officials are asking the film and TV industry to voluntarily pause production as the region staggers under the coronavirus surge, according to an announcement Monday from FilmLA, the nonprofit film office for the city and county. “Although music, TV and film productions are allowed to operate, we ask you to strongly consider pausing work for a few weeks during this catastrophic surge in COVID cases. Identify and delay higher risk activities, and focus on lower-risk work for now, if at all possible,” an excerpt from the county’s Dec. 24 request was quoted as saying.
7:19 a.m. Trump push for $2,000 stimulus checks rests with Senate: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as of Tuesday morning has not publicly stated his intentions for taking up a measure to raise the dollar amount of $600 pandemic stipends following House approval on Monday. Up against Republicans’ wariness of the increased spending, the fate of the potential increase is highly uncertain. Democrats in a rare convergence with President Trump favor the boost.
6:46 a.m. Even as Bay Area restaurants struggle, some seek better treatment for workers: Even as many Bay Area restaurateurs stare down an existential crisis, the pandemic has forced some of them to slow down and examine inequities entrenched in their industry. Despite the challenge of even turning a profit right now, several restaurants are making moves to redesign their businesses. Read the latest from The Chronicle’s Janelle Bitker here.
6:34 a.m. How San Francisco’s coronavirus case rate compares to other U.S. cities right now: California is now the epicenter of the nation’s latest coronavirus surge, yet San Francisco still has one of the lowest case rates of the 20 biggest cities in the U.S. Here is a look at the most recent case rates (daily average per 100,000 in last seven days) in big metro areas across the country, according to the New York Times tracker.
Updates from Monday, Dec. 28:
11:30 p.m. California sets new record for most cases in a day: The state recorded 66,811 new coronavirus cases on Monday, according to The Chronicle’s coronavirus tracker. Previously, the most new cases the state had recorded was 62,661 on Dec. 21.
4:33 p.m. Air travel hits another pandemic high: The number of passengers passing through TSA checkpoints at airports rose above 1.2 million on Sunday for the first time since March, reflecting the national Christmas travel boom that worries public health officers. The figure is down by about half from the same day in 2019.
3:24 p.m. Relief checks could go out this week: The Trump administration is scrambling to send stimulus checks to millions of Americans starting as soon as this week, as it races to implement a $900 billion coronavirus aid package that President Trump signed after days of delays, the Washington Post reports. The package includes $600 payments to individuals and presumably would go ahead regardless of whether the Senate joins the House in beefing that amount up to $2,000. The newly enacted law directs the government to appropriate $20 billion for coronavirus testing, for example, and $8 billion for vaccine distribution.
3:18 p.m. Daily cases drop on average in Bay Area: The number of average daily new coronavirus cases dropped about 10% for the state and the Bay Area last week,state data show. As of Monday, California’s 7-day average of new cases was about 37,600, down from about 41,800. The Bay Area daily average was about 3,900, down from about 4,300. Gov. Gavin Newsom said it shows the regional stay-at-home orders are starting to work and stem the tide of infections. However, existing cases that turned into serious illness are still trending up: California has seen a 37% increase in coronavirus ICU admissions over the past 14 days. Read more here.
3:11 p.m. California hospital crisis levels off, but ‘difficult time ahead’ looms: Although the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations appears to be leveling off across California, the state is expected to announce a continuation of regional stay-at-home orders for its hardest-hit regions. Read the whole story here.
3:06 p.m. Just over 2 million Americans vaccinated so far: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday that the government has distributed 11.4 million doses of coronavirus vaccines thus far, and 2.1 million people have received their initial vaccination of the two required shots. The vaccinations fall far short of the 20 million shots several U.S. officials had predicted would be administered by the end of the year — meaning this week.
3 p.m. House votes to increase stimulus checks to $2,000: The House on Monday passed a measure to increase new stimulus payments to Americans to $2,000, a hike that President Trump and Democrats had sought after $600 checks were included in the $900 billion pandemic aid package that Trump finally and reluctantly signed on Sunday.
2:55 p.m. California leads nation in case rate: California now has more cases — 97 — per 100,000 population than any other state, CDC data show as of Monday. Tennessee is next with 92.9 cases per 100,000 people, followed by Arizona, Oklahoma, Alabama, West Virginia, Delaware, Nevada and Arkansas. New York is No. 12 in the nation, with 61. Hawaii has the fewest cases among the states, 7.5 per 100,000 people.
2:48 p.m. So-called side effects of vaccine may not be that at all: Amid reports of various side effects tied to the new coronavirus vaccinations, the public doesn’t generally recognize the concept that many problems occurring following the shots probably aren’t tied to immunization itself, but rather medical events that happen anyway, Stat reports. The context missing from public health messaging about coronavirus vaccinations and medical events whose timing just comes down to random chance has experts concerned.
2:37 p.m. San Francisco confirms another 155 infections: San Francisco on Monday reported another 155 coronavirus cases, the fewest new infections in more than two weeks and considerably fewer than numbers that have ranged from 193 on Sunday to mostly over 200 and as high as 420 on Dec. 17, figures compiled by The Chronicle show. In all, San Francisco has seen 22,323 people infected with the virus since the start of the pandemic.
2:12 p.m. State’s top health official: mid-January to be ‘difficult time’ for hospitals: California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Monday that state officials anticipate the middle of January will be a “pretty difficult time in our hospitals,” as health care providers grapple with compounding numbers of cases recorded this week and next week. “When I speak to hospital leaders throughout the southern part of the state they are worried about the second part of January as being the major areas of impact,” Ghaly said.
1:41 p.m. California to sanction health care providers that violate vaccine priority guidelines: California health care providers that violate coronavirus vaccine priority guidelines — such as by allowing people to skip the line — could lose their license or be barred from being a vaccine distributor, Gov. Gavin Newsom and California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Monday. “I’m not naive to the prospect there are going to be some issues and we’re going to have to work with our county partners to monitor that behavior at the local level … and make sure someone’s not passing a few vials over to their cousin or aunt or uncle or, God forbid, making a buck or two on the backs of vaccine that should be distributed to someone who’s at higher risk or higher need,” Newsom said.
1:05 p.m. Stocks hit records: Optimism over the stimulus package led the three large U.S. indexes to record closes on Monday. The S&P 500 jumped 0.9%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq each rose 0.7%. The Russell 2000 wound up falling 0.3%.
12:54 p.m. California has vaccinated a quarter million people so far: California has administered 261,672 doses of coronavirus vaccines as of Dec. 26, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday. The state anticipates receiving about 1.76 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the end of the week. That is less than the 2.1 million to 2.4 million doses the state initially projected for December “but not by a huge factor,” Newsom said.
12:33 p.m. Age demographics of ICU admissions: Since Oct. 1, 65% of people admitted to intensive care units for coronavirus treatment were 61 or older, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday. That age group accounted for 80% of deaths in that same period.
12:26 p.m. SoCal hospitals inundated: Los Angeles County had between 12,000 and 15,000 new coronavirus cases per day over the last few weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday, figures that are taking their toll on hospitals in Southern California. Around 96% of hospitals in Los Angeles County were on diverson at some point on Saturday — that figure was 33% prior to the last surge. Routine emergency room care is being slowed as a result.
11:44 a.m. Bay Area ICU availability drops to 9.5%: California’s statewide intensive care capacity in hospitals remained at 0% on Monday, as the availability of hospital beds in the Bay Area took a steep decline to 9.5% from 11.1% on Sunday. The Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley regions remained 0%. The greater Sacramento region had 16.6%, down from 17.8% ICU capacity on Sunday. Northern California improved slightly, with 29.3% availability.
11:19 a.m. Psychosis in coronavirus patients: Doctors across the country are reporting cases of COVID-19 patients with no history of mental health problems who now are developing severe psychotic symptoms weeks after contracting the coronavirus, the New York Times reports. Beyond individual reports, a British study of neurological or psychiatric complications in 153 hospitalized COVID-19 patients found that 10 had “new-onset psychosis.” Another study identified 10 such patients in one hospital in Spain.
11:03 a.m. Fauci projects things will get worse after travel: With more than 10 million people defying health warnings and traveling by air since Dec. 18, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top expert on infectious disease, said the travel could lead to even more coronavirus cases.Crowded airports make it difficult to maintain social distance, Fauci notes, and holiday gatherings combine people from different households. The period since Dec. 18 has seen six days with at least 1 million people recorded at airport security checkpoints.
10:42 a.m. Just innocent fun at Iowa pork plant: One of the Tyson Foods managers fired for betting on how many workers would contract COVID-19 at a Waterloo, Iowa, pork plant said the office pool was spontaneous fun and intended to boost morale. Don Merschbrock, former night manager, told The Associated Press. “We actually worked very hard and took care of our team members well.” More than 1,000 workers at the plant were infected.
10:30 a.m. One-year since “pneumonia with an unknown cause” was reported to WHO: Monday marks the one-year mark of China informing the World Health Organization that it had discovered cases of “pneumonia with an unknown cause” in Wuhan, said Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. At a press briefing, he praised “the extraordinary cooperation between the private and public sector” in developing tests and a vaccine. “This is a moment for all of us to reflect on the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken, the progress we have made, the lessons we have learned, and what we need to do in the year ahead to end this pandemic,” he said.
10:09 a.m. Newsom likely to extend California stay-at-home orders: Gov. Gavin Newsom planned a Monday news briefing, expected to announce continuation of stay-at-home orders for the Southern California and San Joaquin Valley regions which report no available intensive care beds in hospitals. Initially, Monday was the earliest date the two regions could have potentially exited the orders, but they would have had to get their ICU capacity above 15% to do so. Across the state except the northernmost counties, ICU capacity is critically low and infections stemming from holiday gatherings are expected to push caseloads higher.
9:50 a.m. Chinese journalist who reported on Wuhan is jailed: An independent Chinese journalist who reported from Wuhan on the initial coronavirus outbreak has been sent to jail for four years by a Shanghai court, her lawyer said Monday. Zhang Zhan, 37, was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” the lawyer said, according to CNN. A former lawyer, Zhang traveled to Wuhan from Shanghai in early February to report on the pandemic, just as the authorities began reining in state-run and private Chinese media.
9:32 a.m. California taps military personnel for coronavirus help: At least 75 U.S. Army and Air Force medical personnel have been deployed to California to assist in the pandemic response, CNN reports. An Army statement on Monday said the deployment was at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency “as part of a Department of Defense COVID-19 response operation.”
9:17 a.m. Biden to use defense production law to increase vaccine supplies: President-elect Joe Biden plans to invoke the Defense Production Act after taking office next month to boost production of coronavirus vaccines, an advisor said Monday. “You will see him invoking the Defense Production Act,” Dr. Celine Gounder, a member of Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” The move will aim to ensure adequate supply of “personal protective equipment, the test capacity and the raw materials for the vaccines,” she said.
9:11 a.m. House set to vote on increasing stimulus aid: The House planned a vote Monday evening on increasing stimulus payments for Americans to $2,000 after President Trump relented and signed a $900 billion pandemic aid package that included $600 checks for individuals. The aid was included in the more than $2 trillion spending bill to keep the government running, but Trump, after his negotiators worked out the deal on his behalf, had objected that the $600 payments were too small.
8:55 a.m. CVS begins vaccinations in California long-term care sites: CVS Health on Monday was to begin vaccinating residents and staff of long-term care facilities in California and other states under the company’s contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a coronavirus vaccine provider. CVS began giving shots at long-term care facilities in 12 states last week. It plans to vaccinate 4 million residents and staff at over 40,000 long-term care facilities.
8:35 a.m. Record pandemic travel on Sunday: The number of air travelers in the United States reached a new pandemic high on Sunday despite the ongoing COVIC-19 surge and pleadings from public health leaders to stay home. The Transportation Security Administration on Sunday logged 1,284,599 travelers through its airport checkpoints, the largest single-day total since mid-March, news accounts reported.
8:24 a.m. Gun violence up during pandemic: In cities large and small, 2020 has been deadly not only because of the pandemic, but because gun violence is spiking, the Associated Press reports. Authorities and some experts point to an array of possible reasons: social and economic upheaval caused by the pandemic, racially-driven public sentiment toward police, and a historic shortage of jobs and resources in poorer communities.
8:14 a.m. Blind engineer faces work-from-home challenges: The coronavirus pandemic’s work-from-home strictures have upended the work lives of people everywhere, bringing new reliance on features like Zoom and adaptations to dogs and kids underfoot. For a blind engineer who heads a team at Google, however, working from home brings an even more unique set of challenges. Read the story here.
7:58 a.m. Zoom byproduct seems to be plastic surgery boom: Spending a lot of time on Zoom, it turns out, is promoting a wave of self-nitpicking that in turn has made plastic surgeons winners in the coronavirus pandemic. “I’ve never seen so many people want to have facial surgery at the same time, and so urgently, in my 20 years in practice,” a San Francisco plastic surgeon said. Read The Chronicle’s story here.
7:44 a.m. U.S. death toll climbs above 333,000: The United States now has lost more than 333,000 lives to the coronavirus, including 1,209 deaths on Sunday, tracking by Johns Hopkins University reveals. The country has logged 19.1 million coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic, as of Monday morning. Globally, more than 80.9 million cases have been confirmed and nearly 1.8 million lives have been lost around the world.
7:35 a.m. South Africa cases reach 1 million tally: South Africa now has reported more than 1 million coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic. With one of the strictest initial lockdowns in the world, South Africa avoided the high death toll that many experts feared. As restrictions eased in the last quarter of the year, however, the death toll climbed, spiking ahead of the holiday season.
7:18 a.m. Fifth vaccine candidate in final stage testing: A huge study of another COVID-19 vaccine candidate was getting underway Monday as states continue to roll out scarce supplies of the nation’s first two vaccines, from Pfizer-BioNTech and by Moderna. Novavax Inc. has the fifth vaccine to reach final-stage testing in the U.S. to prove if works and is safe.
7:15 a.m. What’s in the relief bill? Americans to get $600 checks: Most adults who got a $1,200 stimulus payment this year will receive one for $600 after President Trump signed the latest coronavirus relief bill Congress passed. Parents will get a slightly bigger payment, $600 instead of $500, for each dependent younger than 17. The Chronicle’s Kathleen Pender reports on the details.
6:46 a.m. Stocks up slightly: A day after President Trump signed the stimulus bill, the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were both up slightly — by less than 1% — in early trading.
Updates from Sunday, Dec. 27:
8:16 p.m. New daily case numbers for Santa Clara, Contra Costa counties: Santa Clara County reported 1,672 new cases on Sunday, one of its highest single-day figures ever, while Contra Costa County reported 420 new cases, its lowest figure in six days. Many counties do not report over the weekends, and weekend and holiday data can also be skewed.
6:45 p.m. Kaiser hospitals in Southern California postpone non-urgent elective surgeries through Jan. 10: Kaiser Permamente hospitals in the hard-hit Southern California region are also “not scheduling any new elective surgeries through the end of January,” according to a statement from the health system. Exceptions include cancer and cases that are believed to be cancer. Kaiser’s Northern California hospitals have postponed non-urgent procedures through January 4, with similar exceptions.
5:10 p.m. Trump signs virus relief bill: After days of brinkmanship, President Trump has signed the $900 billion bill that would give Americans stimulus checks, extend jobless benefits and aid small businesses. However, due to his delay in signing, many people will lose a week of benefits.
5:02 p.m. Hospital systems delay non-emergency surgeries: As fears mount of a bulge of post-holiday cases, several hospital systems, from Kaiser Permanente to Sutter Health and Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, are postponing non-emergency surgeries. Read the story from The Chronicle’s Tatiana Sanchez here.
4:26 p.m. Third COVID-19 vaccine expected to receive U.K. thumbs-up in days: A COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca shows 95% efficacy and 100% effectiveness in preventing severe illness, Astra Zeneca’s CEO said, according to the Times. Officials in the U.K. are expected to approve the vaccine in the coming days.
2:30 p.m. Bay Area hospitalizations increase: Coronavirus hospitalizations in the Bay Area continue to climb, as intensive care patient numbers in the last five days have hovered between 464 and 480 across the area. As of Saturday, 1,869 coronavirus patients were receiving care in local hospitals, an increase of more than 30 from the previous day. Statewide, 19,237 people were hospitalized for the virus, according to data compiled by The San Francisco Chronicle.
2 p.m. U.S. surgeon general calls for addressing medical racism: Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Sunday said medical racism in the U.S. must be addressed following reports of a Black doctor dying of COVID-19 after alleging she received inferior treatment in an Indiana hospital. Adams told ABC’s “This Week” Adams said that medical racism has impeded health officials’ ability to build trust in the coronavirus vaccine in Black communities. He spoke after wide circulation of a death-bed video of Dr. Susan Moore saying she had to “beg” for treatment.
12:42 p.m. Fauci foresees herd immunity in summer, with vaccine: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said 75-80% of the population will likely be vaccinated by the end of summer, establishing the platform for herd immunity against the virus. After frontline health workers, vulnerable groups, and essential workers are vaccinated, “open season” for everyone else to be vaccinated may begin early April, Fauci said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” U.S. officials promised 20 million people would be vaccinated by year’s end but the program has lagged.
12:21 p.m. Bay Area ICU availability stays essentially flat: The Bay Area region had 11.1% capacity in its hospital intensive care units on Sunday, state data showed, while two struggling regions, Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley, still had 0%, and hospitals reported housing patients in a variety of settings outside the ICUs. The greater Sacramento region had 17.8% ICU capacity, rising again above the 15% threshold the state has set as a benchmark below which regions must be under mandatory stay-home rules. Northern California had 28.3% availability.
12:15 p.m. State’s ICU capacity remains at 0%: California’s intensive care capacity in hospitals did not improve Sunday. The statewide availability remained at 0%, forcing use of non-ICU spaces and the state’s “surge” facilities for ICU patients.
11:29 a.m. Thanksgiving surge not seen everywhere: Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the Trump administration’s testing coordinator, said Sunday that Thanksgiving travel did not lead to an increase of coronavirus cases in all places, which suggested that many people heeded recommendations to wear masks and limit the size of gatherings. “It really depends on what the travelers do when they get where they’re going,” Giroir told Fox News. “We know the actual physical act of traveling in airplanes, for example, can be quite safe because of the air purification systems. What we really worry about is the mingling of different bubbles once you get to your destination.”
11:10 a.m. Former FDA head calls 20 million vaccinations by year end “probably unrealistic”: The projected 20 million vaccine shots that federal officials had forecast by year’s end is considerably short so far. Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday that it’s likely unrealistic given the pace to date. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that of 9.5 million vaccine doses distributed, and 1.9 million people have received shots. In California, .32% of the population has received a vaccine, according to data from Bloomberg.
9:56 a.m. State looking at older adults for next group of vaccine recipients: Older adults may be included in the next group of Californians to get vaccinated for the coronavirus, under a new proposal that state vaccine advisers considered last week. People 75 and older and those 65 to 74 with health conditions are now being considered for inclusion in the roughly 15 million next up for shots following health care workers and long-term care facility residents. Read the full story here.
9:38 a.m. S.F. sees another 193 infections: San Francisco recorded another 193 coronavirus cases on Sunday, after confirming 266 on Saturday and 324 on Christmas day. In all, the city has reported 22,168 cases since the start of the pandemic.
9:21 a.m. Fauci says mutant strain does not seem to make people sicker: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and incoming special medical adviser to President-elect Joe Biden, said Sunday on CNN that U.S. scientists are beginning to investigate the mutant coronavirus strains that emerged in Britain and South Africa. Based on U.K. research so far, he said it appears the British strain does not make people more sick than COVID-19, and it doesn’t appear it evades the new coronavirus vaccines.
9:06 a.m. U.S. crosses 19 million case threshold: More than 19 million Americans now have been infected with the cornavirus, as the newest surge blankets the nation. More than 332,000 have died from COVID-19 in the U.S, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University researchers.
8:54 a.m. Bay Area’s new virus cases close to 5,000 in one day: Counties across the Bay Area confirmed 4,927 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, data collected by The Chronicle show. The number was still shy of Monday’s total of 5,028, however. Statewide, new cases on Saturday numbered 52,405, continuing December’s hefty daily increases in California.
8:37 a.m. Minority communities again hit hardest: As the latest coronavirus surge rages, overwhelming California’s hospitals and ravaging families, low-income communities of color again have proved particularly vulnerable to contracting the virus — again disadvantaged due to crowded housing, working essential jobs, difficulties isolating and, in some cases, having no easy access to testing as deaths climb to stunning rates. Read the full story here.
8:31 a.m. Lawmakers urge Trump to sign aid: Several lawmakers are imploring President Trump to sign the bipartisan pandemic aid bill immediately, then have Congress follow up with more relief. “What the president is doing right now is unbelievably cruel,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, said Sunday. “So many people are hurting.” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said Trump should reverse his refusal to sign, then make the case for more aid. “We’ve got a bill right now that his administration helped negotiate,” he said. “I think we ought to get that done.”
8:11 a.m. Trump refuses to sign bill, millions losing out: Sunday brought limbo for the bipartisan pandemic aid package that President Trump has refused to sign, with a government shutdown looming at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. Unemployment benefits for millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet have lapsed as Trump inexplicably raised sudden objections to the hard-fought compromise.
Updates from Saturday, Dec. 26:
9:05 p.m. Kaiser postpones ‘non-urgent’ surgeries at Northern California facilities through Jan. 4: Kaiser Permanente has postponed “elective and non-urgent” surgeries and procedures at its Northern California facilities through Jan. 4 due to the coronavirus surge. Kaiser officials said they are not postponing “cancer cases or other urgent/emergent surgeries and procedures.” Read the story here.
6:20 p.m. ‘God spared my life. Why?’ One Bay Area family hit hard by COVID-19 mourns loss of husband, father: In the early months of the pandemic, Bay Area doctors put Mariquita Baluyot, 68, into a medically induced coma to try to save her life from COVID-19. While she was asleep, her husband of 45 years, Jesus Baluyot, died from COVID-19. Read more about this family’s story from Chronicle reporter Sarah Ravani.
5:29 p.m. Hospital numbers may be flattening in the Bay Area: In recent days, the number of COVID-19 patients in Bay Area hospitals and ICUs has held relatively flat. It’s a ray of hope during a dark time — but the holidays may skew the numbers. The Chronicle’s Joaquin Palomino has the story.
3:45 p.m. Golf sees a pandemic surge. Will it last?: Golf participation numbers and the sale of golf equipment have skyrocketed nationally in 2020 during widespread shutdowns of other recreational activities. At Bay Area courses, the number of rounds played have also surged. Read more about golf’s surge during the pandemic by The Chronicle’s Ron Kroichick.
3:25 p.m. Santa Clara County reports more than 2,000 new cases, after reporting none on Christmas Day: Public health officials reported 2,212 coronavirus cases on Saturday. While that was the highest number of new daily cases since the start of the pandemic, the county reported zero cases on Friday (Christmas Day) — so the figure appears to cover a two-day span. Thirteen percent of all intensive care unit beds were available on Saturday, public health officials said on Saturday.
2:39 p.m. New coronavirus mutation continues to spread: Public health officials have found cases of the new — and potentially more transmissible — variation of the coronavirus in France, Spain and Japan, The New York Times reported on Saturday. The virus variant prompted several countries to impose restrictions on travel from Britain, where the mutation was first observed. The United States has not yet banned flights from Britain, but the CDC on Thursday said that passengers on flights from the United Kingdom will be required to test negative for the coronavirus before they can board.
2:22 p.m. Bay Area ICU capacity rises: Intensive care unit availability rose to 11.3% for the Bay Area on Saturday, up from 9.8% on Friday. Statewide, ICU availability remained at 0%, reflecting how the surge has overtaxed Southern California and San Joaquin Valley hospitals.
2:13 p.m.: Coronavirus surges in Asia: A number of Asian countries are struggling to contain a jump in coronavirus cases. In Japan, Tokyo set a new high with 949 new cases on Saturday, while South Korea set a new record with 1,241 cases reported on Christmas Day, the Associated Press reported. More than a quarter of South Korea’s 793 pandemic deaths have occurred in the past 15 day. In China, where the coronavirus originated, health officials are urging Beijing residents not to leave the city during the Lunar New Year holidays as part of a nationwide effort to stamp out the virus.
12:08 p.m.: COVID-19 cases worldwide now more than 80 million: The coronavirus caseload passed the 80 million mark Saturday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. About 1.75 million people have died from the pandemic.
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