SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As coronavirus cases improve across the Bay Area and United States, local health officials are loosening safety guidelines.
The latest number of confirmed cases in the U.S. can be found at the CDC's 2019 Novel Coronavirus in the U.S. page. (The CDC updates the webpage on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.)
Join anchor Kristen Sze for ABC7's daily, interactive newscast about the coronavirus outbreak in the Bay Area and around the world. You can check here to stream the show Monday-Friday at 3 p.m.
BART police no longer enforcing mask mandate on trains
BART police will no longer enforce a mask mandate on board, officials confirmed with ABC7 News Monday. As of 4:35 p.m. Monday, BART police are not requiring passengers to keep a face mask on when riding the trains. Although BART police won't be enforcing masks, BART spokesperson says the mandate is still in effect, and the agency will be updating the guidelines as they get more information from the TSA. The news comes after a federal judge in Florida struck down on the national mask mandate for airplanes and other public transport methods as exceeding the authority of U.S. health officials in the coronavirus pandemic.
California to drop proof of vaccination, negative test for large indoor events
Starting April 1, individuals will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination or negative test for large indoor events in California. However, state health officials say it will still be a strong recommendation that this protocol continues. According to the CA's Department of Public Health's website, the shift comes after a statewide decline in case rates and hospitalizations after a peak during the omicron surge.
California's test positivity rate declines
California's test positivity rate is on a steady decline. The seven-day rate is at 1.4%. One month ago, it was 5.6% percent.
Homeless deaths doubled in SF during pandemic's 1st year, mostly from overdoses, research finds
More than twice as many people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco died during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to previous years, with the leading cause of death being drug overdose, according to research conducted by UC San Francisco in collaboration with the San Francisco Department of Public Health. No deaths were attributed to the virus itself. Read more on the study here.
SF businesses no longer requiring proof of vaccination
You no longer need proof of vaccination to go inside many businesses in San Francisco. That includes restaurants, bars, and gyms. Businesses can decide on their own if they want to be more restrictive than local health guidelines. So you may find some places still requiring vaccine cards or masks. 83% of San Francisco residents are fully vaccinated.
OUSD to keep mask mandate until at least April 15
Students at Oakland Unified schools will have to continue masking in class until after Spring Break. The superintendent says the district's indoor mask mandate will remain in effect until at least April 15. The district is reviewing the outdoor mask requirement now. OUSD plans to provide an update before the end of the month.
SF to lift vaccine requirement for bars, restaurants
Mayor London Breed announced that San Francisco's policy of requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test for indoor settings likes bars, restaurants, and gyms will be lifted Friday. Businesses can decide to be more restrictive than local health guidelines and can continue to require proof of vaccination or a negative test from their staff and clients. Masks can also still be required.
WHO says COVID boosters needed, reversing previous call
An expert group convened by the World Health Organization said it "strongly supports urgent and broad access" to booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine amid the global spread of omicron, capping a reversal of the U.N. agency's repeated insistence last year that boosters weren't necessary for healthy people and contributed to vaccine inequity.
COVID testing center opens at Moscone Center in SF
There's a new COVID-19 rapid testing facility in San Francisco. It's located on the ground floor of the Moscone Center at 749 Howard Street. The city's Travel Association says it opened the facility to provide visitors, meeting attendees, and residents quick and easy access to affordable testing seven days a week. It's open from 8 AM to 1 PM. Hours will be extended during mega-events in the city.
Hayward lifting some mask rules today
Hayward is lifting the mask mandate today inside City of Hayward facilities if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If you're not, you are still required to wear a mask when inside city facilities for now. This city says this is in line with the current Alameda County public health standards. Public health officials are still encouraging people to mask-up when inside public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.
SFUSD dropping mask mandate for some students
The San Francisco Unified School District will be dropping its mask mandate for middle school and high school students on March 12. Officials say although the mandate is being dropped, it will be strongly recommended that students still wear a mask.
The agreement between SFUSD and its unions also states that the mask mandate will be dropped on April 2 for all district schools and worksites, including PreKindergarten, Transitional Kindergarten, elementary and K-8 schools.
Marin, Alameda counties to align with state on school masks
Marin and Alameda counties, along with the city of Berkeley, say they will align with the state, and remove the school mask mandate after next week.
White House releases 96-page strategy
The White House has released a sweeping 96-page strategy for fighting COVID. One key part is making more free rapid tests available online starting next week. The plan also aims to set up pharmacy clinics by the end of the month. Staff will hand out free antiviral pills to people who test positive.
140 million Americans were infected with COVID through Jan., CDC data shows
The CDC estimates about 140 million, or 43% of Americans were infected through January of this year with COVID. That's almost double the number of confirmed cases. The data came from specialized blood tests that can tell the difference between antibodies created from an infection versus a vaccine.
Santa Clara Co. to drop indoor mask requirement
Santa Clara County Director of Public Health Dr. Sara Cody says the county will drop the universal indoor mask requirement starting on Wednesday and switch to a "strong recommendation." Dr. Cody said the county has cleared several health and safety benchmarks for lifting the mask mandate.
"We are very encouraged by the progress we have made. We have much less COVID spreading in our community as compared to two weeks ago or even a week ago," said Dr. Cody. "While indoor masking in public spaces will no longer be required, it still makes sense to do. Wearing a mask is part of working together to protect others, especially the most vulnerable among us."
The California Department of Public Health continues to require masking in higher-risk settings such as public transit, healthcare facilities, shelters, jails, and long-term care facilities.
Santa Clara Co. health officials to discuss indoor mask requirements
Santa Clara County Director of Public Health Dr. Sara Cody will provide an update today on universal indoor mask requirements.
SFUSD to continue indoor masks following CA announcements
SFUSD announced Monday that indoor masking rules will continue to be in effect in San Francisco public schools despite new state guidelines ending the mandate starting March 12.
CA releases new masking guidelines schools
Starting March 12, masks won't be required in schools and child care facilities in California. They will be strongly recommended. March 12 is a Saturday. So effectively, the lift will take place Monday, March 14 or two weeks from today. It's still unclear if Bay Area districts will lift their mandates.
New masking guidelines expected for CA schools
California's top doctor is set to provide new masking guidelines for schools today. That update is expected to include a date when the current mask mandate will be lifted, according to our news partner, the East Bay Times.
Today's announcement comes after the CDC changed its guidance for masks in schools on Friday. Communities with low to moderate COVID-19 cases can ease masking mandates if they choose to do so. Seven Bay Area counties are in the medium to low risk of community spread category. Solano and Napa remain in the high risk category.
CDC expected to significantly ease mask guidelines
Today, the CDC will make a highly anticipated announcement, easing mask-wearing guidelines. It comes as the agency is shifting to new benchmarks to guide the U.S. on rolling back COVID restrictions.
Moderna officials 'firmly' believe 4th vaccine dose will be needed in fall
Moderna officials said Thursday that a second COVID-19 vaccine booster dose will be needed globally in the fall, given waning immunity and concerns over omicron and the potential for emerging variants. The company says it now believes a seasonal COVID-19 booster will be needed in the future, particularly for vulnerable populations
Target lifting mask mandate for employees and customers
Target announced Wednesday that the company will not require U.S. employees or guests to wear masks, as regulations allow. The company says it will follow state and local COVID-19 safety regulations.
3 Bay Area counties improve to 'moderate' COVID levels
Three Bay Area counties have reached a new milestone. San Mateo, Alameda and Marin have improved to "moderate" COVID levels. Those three counties have lower transmission rates than the rest of the Bay Area, according to federal data. The region is averaging 26 new cases a day per 100,000 residents, down from 127 at the start of the month.
New data shows COVID vaccines aren't likely to trigger rare virus complication in kids
The CDC says new data shows COVID vaccines are not likely to trigger a rare complication from the virus in kids. The condition involves fever, swelling and heart problems.
Since Feb. 2020, more than 6,800 cases have been reported in the U.S., all in children who were previously infected with coronavirus.
That prompted the CDC to re-examine the vaccine. They found it is safe.
Vallejo to vote on lifting mask mandate
Vallejo's City Council will vote Tuesday night on whether to rescind an indoor mask mandate.
The city says 80% of Vallejo residents are now fully vaccinated and COVID case counts are low.
With California allowing its statewide indoor mask mandate to expire, Vallejo believes it can make masks optional in municipal buildings and other city-owned venues.
The city council is meeting remotely, but it plans to resume in-person meetings March 8.
UK expected to lift all remaining COVID restrictions
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to lift all remaining COVID restrictions in England. Johnson will lay out the country's "Living with COVID" plan later today.
It would lift the requirement to self-isolate for 5 days after testing positive for the virus. He's also expected to scrap free COVID tests because of the cost.
But scientists say that will leave the country vulnerable to a new variant. More than 80 % of English adults have gotten their booster shot.
Experts say 2nd booster shot not needed yet
Is it time for a second booster shot? Not yet, that's according to experts. They are telling the Chronicle three shots is proving to be enough to fight off severe illness and death from COVID.
Antibodies wane months after a person gets their first booster shot, but so far, a total of three shots is still enough to fight off the most serious impacts of the disease.
Some people, like folks who are immunocompromised, are urged to get a second booster shot to be considered "fully vaccinated."
Deaths projected to drop in weeks to come
Forecast models used by the CDC suggest that daily COVID-19 fatalities will finally begin to fall in the U.S. in the weeks to come. The ensemble model estimates that only eight states have a greater than 50% chance of having more deaths over the next two weeks compared to the past two weeks, and two states and territories have a greater than 75% chance of seeing an increase.
California among 15 states with increasing deaths
The U.S. is reporting an average of 2,200 lives lost to COVID-19 each day. Fifteen states are reporting at least a 10% increase in daily death rates over the last week: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia.
Calif. hospital admissions down 60% in last month
Hospital admissions in California are down more than 60% in the last month. Our test positivity average is just over 6%. It was close to 23% a month ago.
Black, Latino teens in Bay Area less likely to be vaccinated
Black and Latino teens ages 12 and up in the Bay Area are less likely to be vaccinated against COVID than their White and Asian counterparts, according to our media partner, the Bay Area News Group. They looked at local school district and public health department data to come to that conclusion. Experts say the disparity is a reason why school districts should not enact vaccine mandates for students. They believe a student vaccination mandate would result in tens of thousands of Bay Area students not being able to go to school -- with many of them being students of color.
San Mateo County libraries giving out free at-home COVID-19 test kits starting Saturday
Libraries in San Mateo County will be giving away free at-home COVID-19 test kits and free masks beginning Saturday, Feb. 12.
The county says it will distribute the following per household while supplies last:
No appointments are necessary, and tests and masks are available on a first come, first serve basis.
Families in need will be able to pick up at the following locations:
Belmont, Brisbane, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Millbrae, North Fair Oaks, Portola Valley, San Carlos and Woodside Libraries.
You can get more information by visiting this page.
NYC's unvaccinated workers face termination
About 3,000 municipal workers in New York City -- less than 1% of the city's workforce --- face termination Friday after refusing to abide by a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The requirement, established under former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, applies to municipal employees hired after Aug. 2, 2021, who were told to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment and to unvaccinated police officers, correction officers, firefighters and others who opted to forego city health benefits and are currently on leave because they are not vaccinated.
Washington state to lift mask mandates
Washington became one of the latest states to announce it will be easing mask requirements. Gov. Jay Inslee said the state's outdoor mask mandate will be lifted on Feb. 18, and he will provide a date next week on when the indoor mask mandate will end.
SF to drop indoor mask mandate for vaccinated next week
SF Mayor London Breed says San Francisco will match the state's dropping of indoor mask requirement. Vaccinated people will no longer be required to wear masks in most indoor settings, including restaurants, bars, gyms, grocery stores, offices, museums, and other locations. The unvaccinated will still be required to wear masks indoors.
Santa Clara Co. indoor mask mandate to stay in place
Santa Clara Co. Public Health Director Dr. Sara Cody announced she will not be lifting the indoor mask mandate next week with the rest of the state. Dr. Cody says hospitalization rates are still too high and metrics must be met to lift the mandate.
Santa Clara Co. to make announcement on indoor masks
Santa Clara County is expected to make an announcement about when vaccinated people can stop wearing their masks indoors. The state of California is set to drop the rule next week. But it's up to local counties to issue their own guidance. Dr. Sara Cody is set to give an update this morning at 8:30 on where Santa Clara stands.
CA COVID sick leave law returns
California's COVID sick leave law has returned. Workers will receive up to two weeks of paid time off if they get coronavirus. It's retroactive to the beginning of the year and expires at the end of September.
New Berkeley mandates for workers, customers starts today
New Berkeley mandates for workers, customers starts today
There are big changes starting today in Berkeley, anyone older than 5 needs to show they are vaccinated before stepping inside a restaurant or gym. Employees have even stricter requirements. Workers have to show they are boosted. This is for places like restaurants, gyms, pharmacies, dental offices and childcare facilities. If they aren't vaccinated- they can show proof of a medical exemption or religious belief that prevents them from getting inoculated. If you have tickets to an event that will have a crowd of 500 people or more you have five weeks to get vaccinated, Starting March 14th- you will be required to be vaccinated at an event like that- and a negative COVID test won't be enough you have to be vaccinated.
Berkeley's health officer say this requirement will help lower people's risk for severe illness and will improve the community's safety.
New Jersey governor to end mask mandate for schools
New Jersey Gov. Philip Murphy is expected to announce Monday that the state's requirement to wear face masks in schools will end the second week of March. Murphy, a Democrat, has imposed some of the strictest pandemic-related mandates in the United States. The move would follow a decision last month by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, also a Democrat, to rescind his state's mask mandate for schools.
New Berkeley mandates for workers, customers starts on Monday
Two new mandates go into effect for Berkeley starting on February 7.
The City of Berkeley must require proof of full vaccination from customers 5 years old and up who enter indoor areas, according to city health officials.
Per the city's website, it's required for customers who enter the following:
Second, Berkeley employees must be boosted, "up to date" with their vaccination. These include employees at the following:
The city says this includes employees, contractors, volunteers, custodians, maintenance and other workers who enter those businesses, even after business hours.
You can read more on City of Berkeley's website.
US death toll from COVID-19 hits 900,000, sped by omicron
Propelled in part by the wildly contagious omicron variant, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has hit 900,000, less than two months after eclipsing 800,000. The number of deaths, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is more than the populations of Indianapolis, San Francisco, or Charlottes, North Carolina. COVID-19 has become one of the three top leading causes of death in America, behind the big two - heart disease and cancer. To public health experts, the milestone is made all the more tragic because so many of the recent deaths were preventable. Just 64% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated.
Sonoma Co. to let restrictions on large gatherings expire Feb. 10
With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations declining, Sonoma County health officials said Friday that the health order temporarily restricting the size of large gatherings will expire as scheduled at 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 10.
However, they strongly encouraged seniors over the age of 65 with underlying health conditions and people who have not yet been boosted or vaccinated, to avoid large gatherings and continue wearing masks indoors around people outside their household, noting that the omicron surge is not yet over.
Contra Costa Reaches 80% vaccinated, sunsets vaccine verification requirement
With 80% of all county residents now fully vaccinated, Contra Costa Health Services lifted its order requiring certain businesses, including restaurants and gyms, to verify the vaccination status or recent negative test results of customers.
US death rate on the rise
The U.S. is now reporting an average of over 2,300 COVID-19-related fatalities each day -- the highest daily death average in nearly one year, according to federal data. In the last week alone, the nation's daily death average has increased by more than 31%. Overall, however, the nation's average is still significantly lower than last winter, when the U.S. peaked at about 3,400 deaths per day.
Warriors home game booster requirement goes into effect
Starting tonight, Chase Center will require proof of either an up-to-date vaccination, including proof of a booster shot for eligible guests received at least one week prior to the event, or a negative COVID-19 test, taken within 24 hours (for antigen tests) or 48 hours (for PCR tests).
If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live
US death toll expected to approach 950,000 by end of month
Forecast models used by the CDC predict about 32,000 more Americans will die from COVID-19 by Feb. 26, bringing the nation's virus death toll to nearly 947,000. The ensemble model estimates that 38 states have a greater than 50% chance of having more deaths over the next two weeks compared to the past two weeks.
Moderna gets full FDA approval for vaccine
Moderna has now received full FDA approval for its COVID-19 vaccine, the second vaccine maker to be granted full approval, after Pfizer. All three vaccines currently available in the U.S. were granted emergency authorization based on large clinical studies and at least two months of safety data. Moderna said the full approval was "based on a comprehensive submission package including efficacy and safety data approximately six months after second dose."
VTA adds vaccine mandate for employees
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority is adding a vaccine mandate for its employees. They have until April 29 to prove they're fully vaccinated. Boosters are not required. Employees will have the option to request an exemption for medical or religious reasons. If approved, the unvaccinated employees would then be tested weekly for COVID-19.
SF to change indoor mask rules
Beginning on February 1, San Francisco office workers, gym members and other "stable cohorts" of people may remove masks indoors again, reinstating the mask exemption that was in place before the latest omicron surge.
Deaths increasing to highest point in nearly 1 year
Daily COVID-19-related deaths -- which are a lagging indicator -- are steadily increasing to their highest point in nearly one year, according to federal data. The U.S. is reporting an average of more than 2,100 new fatalities each day, surpassing the average from last summer's delta surge. However, the nation's death toll remains significantly lower than last winter when the U.S. peaked at about 3,400 deaths per day.
East Bay teachers to meet over COVID safety
Teachers and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District will meet today to try and prevent a strike over COVID safety measures. The teachers union is demanding mandatory COVID testing, plans in case of an outbreak, and more substitute teachers. They also want KN95 and N95 masks provided to students and staff daily something the district says is already happening. While the demands are being negotiated, the district says more students need to be vaccinated to contain this surge. 54% of students 12 and older reported being vaccinated - a low rate compared to other local school districts.
The World Health Organization is sounding the alarm over rising cases of a new omicron sub-variant. In an updated post to its website on Monday, the WHO said the new sub-variant, called BA.2, is a descendant of omicron, the now-dominant, highly contagious variant of the novel coronavirus. Unlike omicron, BA.2 is currently not considered a "variant of concern." But because it is spreading in many countries, the WHO is asking governments and scientists across the globe to monitor the situation and study the new sub-variant, as many have already been doing.
Conditions 'ideal' for more variants WHO warns
The head of the World Health Organization warned Monday that although people across the globe must learn to live with COVID-19 "for the foreseeable future," we cannot "give this virus a free ride."
"There are different scenarios for how the pandemic could play out and how the acute phase could end," Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO's director-general, said in opening remarks at an executive board meeting in Geneva. "But it's dangerous to assume that omicron will be the last variant or that we are in the endgame."
"On the contrary, globally, the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge," he added.
Santa Clara Co. offering free at-home antigen tests with signups
Santa Clara Co. is offering a limited number of free at-home COVID-19 antigen tests to those who live, work, or attend school in the county. You can sign up through www.sccfreetest.org to obtain four at-home tests.
Those able to secure an appointment may choose from one of the distribution locations for pick up at a chosen time. Each person will be assigned a unique QR code which must be displayed to receive the tests. Tests are not available on a drop-in basis without an appointment.
2-year anniversary of 1st COVID case in US
Today marks two years since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the U.S. It happened in Washington state and came just two weeks after the novel coronavirus was first identified in China.
Since that initial case, more than 68.5 million people have tested positive across the U.S. The infection has claimed more than 855,000 lives in the nation.
The pandemic has also impacted almost every aspect of American life since sweeping across the country soon after that first case two years ago.
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