The Chronicle began covering the coronavirus crisis before the first cases were reported in the Bay Area and a pandemic was declared. 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 batch of updates from Aug. 19-20.
• See the full timeline.
Updates from Saturday, Aug. 22:
9:27 p.m. Two new deaths in Sonoma County: The county recorded 125 new cases and two deaths on Saturday.
4:30 p.m. Santa Clara County records more cases, deaths: County public health officials reported 196 new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the county’s case total to 15,688 cases. Officials also reported two more deaths, bringing the county’s death total to 224 deaths. The new cases and deaths reflect “new diagnoses and deaths occurring over the past several days,” county officials said.
1:00 p.m. Berkeley to consider fines for mask violators: Mayor Jesse Arreguin said the City Council will consider, at its Sept. 15 meeting, establishing fines for people who don’t wear masks as required by public health orders. He said he supports the use of fines not on a routine basis but for people holding parties or events where attendees aren’t wearing masks.
12:40 p.m. Berkeley to reopen pools — in September: Berkeley, which has its own public health department, has been given the go-ahead to reopen public swimming pools. But it probably won’t happen until mid-September, Deputy City Manager Paul Buddenhagen said, because lifeguards need to be recertified, which wasn’t possible during the shutdown, and some have chosen not to return to work.
12:44 p.m.: Berkeley expands child-care pods: With school in session and child-care an issue for many families, the city’s health department has increased the allowable size of child-car pods from 12 to 15, Lisa Hernandez, the city’s public health director, said Saturday at a city town hall meeting. Berkeley has its own public health department, separate from the Alameda County Public Health Department.
11:18 a.m. California gets approval for more unemployment benefits: The Employment Development Department said Saturday that the state’s application for Lost Wages Assistance funding has been approved. That will mean an extra $300 a week for people receiving at least $100 a week in regular state unemployment benefits. See the details in Kathleen Pender’s Net Worth column.
Updates from Friday, Aug. 21:
10:08 p.m. Richmond Police lose 24-year veteran to COVID-19: Flags at the state Capitol will fly at half-staff to honor Sgt. Virgil Thomas, who died Thursday of COVID-19 at age 51. “We send our sincere condolences to Sergeant Thomas’ family, friends and fellow officers as well as the Richmond community, which has lost a devoted public servant,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. In addition to serving at Kennedy High School and on the Neighborhood Services Team, among other duties, Sgt. Thomas was president of the Guardians of Justice, a community group working for fair treatment of Black officers. Sgt. Thomas is survived by his wife, Karene, and four children.
8:30 p.m. Alameda County to allow limited outdoor activities, services in new order: Alameda County’s health officer issued an order Friday announcing that outdoor swimming pools and outdoor hair salons, nail salons, barbershops, waxing services, skin care and non-medical massages will be allowed to resume on Aug. 28. “These Orders exclude services that may require a client to remove their face covering, as well as eyebrow threading and waxing and eyelash treatments,” county officials said. Also on Aug. 28, wineries in the county will be able to provide outdoor tastings by appointment without needing to provide food, county officials said. The delay is because of wildfire smoke, which county officials said is creating unhealthy air quality in Alameda County. For the full statement, check here.
4:24 p.m. Napa County reports 12 new cases: Napa County, which just came off the state’s coronavirus watch list, reported 12 new cases on Friday — its lowest figure in five days. No new deaths were reported.
3:56 p.m. Over 200 new cases in Alameda, Contra Costa counties: Alameda County reported 218 new coronavirus cases and three deaths on Friday, while Contra Costa County reported 221 new cases and three deaths.
3:35 p.m. Confusion reigns as schools reopen: For countless families across the country, the school year is opening in disarray and confusion, with coronavirus outbreaks triggering sudden closings, mass quarantines and deep anxiety. Schools in at least 10 states have had students and staff test positive for the virus since they began opening. The outbreaks have occurred in a variety of school settings: marching bands, high school football teams, elementary classrooms, high schools, the Associated Press reports.
2:34 p.m. Hospitals, nursing homes evacuating: Patients with COVID-19 are among those being moved as wildfires are forcing several Bay Area hospitals and nursing homes to evacuate, transfer patients and brace for an influx of new patients with smoke-related respiratory problems — putting additional strain on a health care system already stretched thin due to the pandemic. Read the whole story here.
2:12 p.m. WHO says vaccine alone won’t be enough: The World Health Organization said Friday that a vaccine will be a “vital tool” in fighting the coronavirus, but it won’t end the pandemic on its own and there’s no guarantee scientists will find one. World leaders and the public must permanently adjust daily life to bring the virus down to low levels, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing.
2:05 p.m. Napa County makes it off state watch list: California health officials dropped Napa County from the state’s coronavirus monitoring list Thursday after the county met benchmarks on metrics such as hospitalizations and case rates. The county, however, will not be allowed to resume indoor operations until the state modifies the health order and authorizes the reopening.
2:01 p.m. US just shy of 175,000 COVID-19 deaths: The United States had recorded 174,967 lives lost as of Friday afternoon, nearing yet another disturbing milestone number as the pandemic continues to wollop health and the economy. The nation has confirmed more than 5.6 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.
1:48 p.m. Marin County says hotels can reopen: Hotels, motels and other short-term rentals and tourism businesses now can reopen in Marin County, health officials announced Friday, thanks to progress on restricting spread of the coronavirus. Businesses must follow county guidelines for what will be the first reopening to tourism since May 29. Parties, events, and outside visitors are still not allowed indoors. and businesses must follow MarinRecovers.com health guidelines.
1:42 p.m. Stocks soar to records: Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq had record closes Friday, and the Dow Jones industrial average also had a good day. The Dow rose 0.7%, the Nasdaq 0.4% and the S&P 0.3%. The Russell 2000, with smaller stocks, fell 0.9%.
1:37 p.m. Infections among federal firefighters: The U.S. Forest Service said Friday at a briefing that among about 5,000 seasonal personnel in the Pacific Southwest region, most of whom are firefighters, 73 cases of COVID-19 have been reported since March. Of those, 69 have recovered and been redeployed. Some workers experienced serious illness but none were hospitalized. An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that 5,000 was the number of USFS firefighters.
1 p.m. Salmon delay due to pandemic previews good season: A delayed start to the salmon season due to COVID-19 along with fewer fish caught over the summer add up to high numbers of king, or chinook salmon, available for the fall run. That’s the consensus of anglers and biologists, The Chronicle’s Tom Stienstra reports.
12:30 p.m. Newsom again says SF coming off state watch list: Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday again predicted San Francisco will soon be off the state’s list of counties being monitored for progress on the coronavirus. He told a news briefing he hoped to affirm that development soon, along with the removal of Orange County from the list. Newsom had forecast San Francisco would be cleared to get off the list Thursday, but the city remained as it failed to reach all the benchmarks the state requires.
10:30 a.m. James Baker recovering from the coronavirus: Former Secretary of State James Baker and his wife, Susan, have tested positive for coronavirus and are recovering in isolation in their Houston home. “Neither of them look like they’re going to have to be hospitalized,” Baker spokesman John Williams told CNN on Thursday evening.
10:07 a.m. College football debate a microcosm of US virus response: With debate raging over when and how to reopen schools, an editorial in The Chronicle looks the parallel flap over college football that has devolved from public health debate to partisan culture skirmish. Instead of a deliberate consideration of whether and how the game can proceed safely, a pointless has erupted over accepting or denying the reality of the deadly pandemic itself, the editorial states.
9:59 a.m. State’s daily average cases continue drop: California’s average daily number of new coronavirus infections over the past three days has been 6,071, compared to 7,056 over the past seven days, and 7,339 daily average since Aug. 11 when the state’s data glitch was fixed and the count backlog cleared. The average daily count for July was 8,693.
9:44 a.m. New cases seen in SF, San Mateo County: San Francisco recorded another 91 coronavirus cases, bringing its total to 8,702 cases since the start of the pandemic. San Mateo reported 90 new cases as of Friday, bringing its total thus far to 7,472 cases.
9:40 a.m. Farallon restaurant shutters: Union Square’s 23-year-old seafood emporium Farallon is yet another restaurant to close due to the coronavirus. “It was just not going to make sense given all the ramifications of the pandemic for Farallon to try to reopen … or to try to think about how to pivot the restaurant,” said restaurant partner Pete Sittnick. Read the story here.
9:29 a.m. Air quality monitoring vital during coronavirus danger: For health and safety, it’s vital to know the latest air quality information in your community, especially for people at risk of or suffering from coronavirus infection. The Chronicle provides a guide to the many air quality resources and monitoring information for the Bay Area’s many regions and microclimates.
9:17 a.m. CDC director says infections in US may be up to 60 million: Up to 60 million Americans could have been infected with coronavirus, as testing has not revealed the full count, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told the Journal of the American Medical Association Thursday. Cases officially reported, as tracked by Johns Hopkins University, number just over 170,000 to date. Redfield said good data is not yet available.
9:05 a.m. Higher death toll than we know is likely: As many as 215,000 more people than usual died in the U.S. during the first seven months of 2020, suggesting that lives lost to the coronavirus number significantly more than the official toll that’s recorded at more than 174,000. The Associated Press reports that half the dead were people of color, according to CDC figures that underscore the racial disparity laid bare by the crisis.
8:41 a.m. Postmaster general says mail-in ballots will make it in time: Postal chief Louis DeJoy told a Senate commitee Friday that he was “extremely highly confident” that mail-in ballots will be delivered on time. “We will scour every plant each night leading up to Election Day,” he said. He refuted as “outrageous” the allegations that ahead of a surge in pandemic-spurred absentee ballots he was trying to slow mail-in voting. “There has been no changes to any policies with regard to election mail,” he said. “The Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail fully and on time.”
8:16 a.m. No more empty buses in transit-future plan: A public-planning research project sponsored by UC and the National Transportation Research Board — after the coronavirus all but emptied public transportation — envisions novel transit future: Researchers describe micro-transit tailored to population usage — a van or a sedan instead of a largely empty bus, system perhaps similar to Uber or Lyft but running as part of the public transportation system. Read the story here.
7:49 a.m. Virus forces fire evacuees to avoid shelters: The Red Cross is encouraging fire evacuees to plan for safe refuge other than evacuation shelters when possible due to concerns about coronavirus social distancing. “The first thing we would do is send people to a hotel, but there are only so many hotels. That’s why there are shelters open,” said Jennifer Adrio, Red Cross CEO in Northern California’s coastal region. Read The Chronicle’s story here.
7:34 a.m. Stocks fall, then rise: Shares overcame early losses as traders digested prospects for further stimulus. Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi suggested in a PBS interview that she would keep pushing for a larger economic rescue package.
7:29 a.m. Biden says Trump failed nation: Joe Biden, accusing President Trump of failing to protect the nation from the pandemic, promised that as president “the first step I will take” will be getting it under control. What Trump never understood, he said Thursday, that, “We will never get our economy back on track. We will never get our kids safely back in schools. We’ll never have our lives back — until we deal with this virus.” He predicted in a virtual address to the Democratic National Convention that that under a second Trump term, cases will still be too high, more businesses will shutter, and working families will struggle: “The president keeps telling us: The virus is going to disappear. He keeps waiting for a miracle. Well, I have news for him. No miracle is coming.”
7:13 a.m. Richmond police sergeant dies from COVID-19 complications: Richmond police are mouring 24-year department veteran Sgt. Virgil Thomas, who died Thursday of complications from the coronavirus. Police described Thomas as a mentor and leader dedicated to public service. He was president of the Guardians of Justice, focused on “fair treatment” of Black police officers. He is survived by his wife and four children, police said.
6:13 a.m. Coronavirus, wildfires combine to create a Bay Area respiratory catastrophe: The potential for respiratory catastrophe looms large on two fronts. Fires are ringing the nine counties and thick smoke blankets the region. The coronavirus still is circulating widely, with more than 1,000 new cases reported most days. The added air pollution could make matters worse, experts said. Read the full story by Erin Allday.
4:19 a.m. Kids may be spreading virus more than originally thought: A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found some children had high levels of coronavirus in their airways in the first three days of their infection, despite despite exhibiting minor symptoms, or none at all, The Washington Posts reports. The study suggests children may be playing a bigger role in community spread than initially thought. Because young children tend to exhibit fewer symptoms, fewer were tested for the virus during earlier stages of the pandemic. Their role in spreading the virus is still the subject of research.
4:00 a.m. SF supervisor tests positive for COVID-19: Supervisor Gordon Mar said he’s tested positive for COVID-19. Mar, who represents the Sunset on the Board of Supervisors, said on Thursday evening that his symptoms are “minor” — though the severity of the virus can rapidly change. It is unclear exactly when and how the supervisor contracted the virus, but his office said he may have been exposed when he and his daughter spent a night camping in Tahoe last weekend.