COVID-19 live updates: New variant of COVID-19 increasing throughout California, state health officials say

ABC7 San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — The COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact across the world and also in cities across Northern California. 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 novel coronavirus outbreak in the Bay Area and other hot topics. You can check here to stream the show Monday-Friday at 3 p.m.

Here are the latest developments on the respiratory illness in the U.S.:

Jan. 17, 2021

6 p.m.
Variant of COVID-19 increasing throughout California, state health officials say
A COVID-19 variant first found in other countries and states has been showing up in rising numbers throughout California, health officials with the California Department of Public Health, Santa Clara County and UCSF announced on Sunday. Authorities say the L452R variant of COVID-19 was first identified more frequently since November 2020 and is different than the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom. Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. says the 452R variant has been identified in several large outbreaks in Santa Clara County.

“The fact that this variant was identified in several large outbreaks in our county is a red flag and must be investigated further,” said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. “This virus continues to mutate and adapt, and we cannot let down our guard. This news underscores the need for everyone to follow all prevention measures and get vaccinated as soon as they are offered the vaccine.”

The 452R variant has also been detected in Humboldt, Lake, Los Angeles, Mono, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, San Francisco, San Bernardino, San Diego and San Luis Obispo counties. Officials say “Because genomic sequencing is not done equally across the state or country, it is too soon to know how prevalent the 452 variant is statewide, nationally or globally.”

Researchers at UCSF are working to learn more about the strain and how it spreads.

“This variant carries three mutations, including L452R, in the spike protein, which the virus uses to attach to and enter cells, and is the target of the two vaccines that are currently available in the United States,” said Dr. Chiu. “Now that we know this variant is on the rise in our local communities, we are prioritizing it for study. Researchers at UCSF and elsewhere will now be able to perform the critical laboratory experiments to determine whether or not this virus is more infectious or affects vaccine performance.”

12:30 p.m.
California records 42,229 new COVID-19 cases Saturday
California recorded 42,229 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, adding to the total of 2,942,475 confirmed cases to date. The 7-day positivity rate is at 11.3% and the 14-day positivity rate is at 12.5%. As of Sunday, a total of 3,226,775 vaccine doses, which includes the first and second dose, have been shipped to local health departments and health care systems that have facilities in multiple counties.

11:30 A.M.
Santa Clara County Jail inmates go on hunger strike in response to massive COVID-19 outbreak
More than 40 Inmates at the Santa Clara County Jail have started a hunger strike in response to the largest COVID-19 outbreak since the start of the pandemic. On Wednesday, the sheriff’s office reported 109 new cases in the jail, marking the third and the largest outbreak at the jail. Inmates say they are protesting unsanitary living conditions and a lack of policy. The District Attorney’s office is working on early releases that could start next week.

10 a.m.
Cal postpones basketball games due to COVID-19
UC Berkeley has postponed upcoming basketball games against USC, UCLA, the University of Washington and Washington State University. Cal Basketball said on Twitter Sunday morning that the cancellations were because of “recent COVID-19 developments” within the program.

Due to recent COVID-19 developments within our program, California’s games against USC, UCLA, Washington and Washington State have been postponed.

— Cal Basketball (@CalWBBall) January 17, 2021

Jan. 16, 2021
East Bay doctor hosts drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic
The playground at Stanley Elementary School in Lafayette was transformed into a drive-thru vaccination clinic for seniors this weekend. Dr. Rebecca Parish who is in private practice in Walnut Creek, partnered with the city of Lafayette and local senior organizations to get the vaccine to those who may be homebound or tech challenged. Many seniors have been frustrated trying to get the vaccine, like Wayne Hahn. “I’m feeling relieved, I live in Rossmoor they were unable to get the county to come and give it to the 10,000 seniors who live there like me,” he said. Read more here.

11 a.m.
California reports more than 600 deaths in 1 day
California reported more than 40,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and another 669 people died of the virus statewide. Friday’s death toll is the second-highest number seen in a single-day since the pandemic began nearly one year ago. A total of 32,960 Californians have died of the virus to date. More than 20,000 remain hospitalized with 4,750 are in ICUs.

Jan. 15, 2021

2 p.m.
100 million shots just the start of Joe Biden’s COVID-19 plan
Getting 100 million shots in Americans’ arms in his first 100 days is only the beginning of his coronavirus plan, President-elect Joe Biden declared Friday. Lasting impact, he said, will come from uniting the nation in a new effort grounded in science and fueled by billions in federal money for vaccination, testing and outbreak sleuths. Read more about his plan here.

1 p.m.
San Francisco to open 3 large COVID-19 vaccination sites, mayor says
San Francisco Mayor London Breed provided clarity on the city’s plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, saying the city ready to roll out a network of vaccination sites and distribute doses once the supply is available. The city intends to open three large vaccination sites at San Francisco City College, the Moscone Center and in the Bayview District, along with pop-up sites across the city. Here’s the full story.

11 a.m.
Santa Clara Co. health officials give COVID-19 update
Santa Clara County officials provided an update on the expansion of locations for vaccine distribution and the eligibility guidelines for vaccine recipients.

8:20 a.m.
Instacart, Trader Joe’s offer vaccine benefits to workers
Grocery delivery app Instacart is announcing it will pay its workers $25 to get a COVID-19 vaccination, starting next month. The San Francisco-startup says the stipend would be available to shift leads, in-store shoppers and full-service shoppers. Trader Joe’s is also offering incentives for getting vaccinated, and shift schedules to give workers time to get their shots. Employees would get two hours of extra pay per dose.

Jan. 14, 2021
5 a.m.
Bus Test Express continues Bay Area rollout
The COVID-19 Bus Test Express continues its rollout across the Bay Area today. This free testing site on wheels opens this morning outside the Sonoma Veteran’s Memorial Hall. It will be open through Saturday – then again next Thursday and Friday. Each bus is customized with state of the art medical equipment. The Bus Test Express launched in Berkeley earlier this week. It hopes to expand to Contra Costa, San Mateo, and Solano Counties in the coming weeks.

Jan. 13, 2021

3 p.m.
Santa Clara County allows residents 75 and older to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine
Individuals 75 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Santa Clara County, officials announced on Wednesday. Eligible South Bay residents, in addition to health care workers in Phase 1A of the county’s rollout plan, can go to to schedule a vaccination. Read more here.

2:30 p.m.
Morgues in Santa Clara County are almost at full capacity, health leaders said on Tuesday
Already three local morgues can no longer store bodies, and four others are nearly full. To address the shortage of space, the county has brought in three refrigerated trailers that can hold up to 60 bodies. Two trailers are located at the county medical examiner’s office and the other is at Bay Area Mortuary Services in San Jose. The sobering news comes as the county faces increased COVID-19 cases and deaths. Read more here.

12:15 p.m.
Calif. opens scarce vaccines to those 65 and older
California is allowing residents 65 and older to get scarce coronavirus vaccines. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement Wednesday puts seniors in line before emergency workers, teachers, childcare providers and food and agriculture workers even as counties complain they already don’t have enough doses to go around.

5 a.m.
Sonoma Co. to start mass vaccinations at fairgrounds
Sonoma County will start mass vaccinations at the county fairgrounds. Safeway pharmacists are partnering with the county to start administering shots for more healthcare workers, including in-home caregivers. The county Human Services Department was contacting eligible residents for appointments. At last check, the county has already vaccinated about 12,000 people. Read more here.

Jan. 12, 2021

5 p.m.
Stay-home order lifted in Sacramento region
California is lifting its stay-at-home order for the 13-county Sacramento region. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the region’s coronavirus hospitalizations have stabilized sufficiently to allow the region to be the first in the state to exit the order imposed last month as virus cases exploded. The move means restaurants may again serve diners outdoors, hair salons and other businesses can reopen, and retail stores can serve more customers. The Bay Area, the Central Valley and Southern California all continue to have more pronounced shortages of ICU space in hospitals and remain under the order. Get the full story here.

2:30 p.m.
CDC to require negative COVID-19 test for international passengers flying to US
The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to sign today or Wednesday an order requiring all international passengers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding flights to the United States, a federal health official said. Get the full story here.

11:15 a.m.
Cases, hospitalizations surge in San Francisco
There are 249 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in San Francisco — twice as many as during the last surge in July, officials said. Since the pandemic began, there have been 27,000 COVID-19 cases in SF and 235 deaths. ICU capacity in the city is currently at 29%.

6 a.m.
Coronavirus death toll reaches 30,000 in California
The coronavirus death toll in California reached 30,000 on Monday, another staggering milestone as the nation’s most populous state endures the worst surge of the nearly yearlong pandemic.

5 a.m.
US asking states to vaccinate everyone older than 65
The Trump administration is asking states to speed delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to people 65 and older and to others at high risk by no longer holding back the second dose of the two-dose shots, officials said Tuesday.

Jan. 11, 2021

12:30 p.m.
Bay Area’s ICU capacity below 1%, stay-home order likely to be extended
Less than 1 percent of the Bay Area’s intensive care unit beds remain available amid the region’s latest coronavirus surge, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday. Approximately 0.7% of the 11-county greater Bay Area region’s ICU beds remain open, according to state public health data. Once ICU capacity hits 0%, the region would then pivot to its surge capacity of additional ICU beds. Statewide, hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have risen 6 percent over the past two weeks to 21,668 while ICU admissions have increased 13 percent to 1,868 as of Sunday.

12 p.m.
UC campuses plan to resume in-person classes for fall 2021 semester
The University of California announced that it is planning for in-person classes to resume during the fall 2021 semester at all 10 of its campuses. Get the full story here.

10 a.m.
Santa Clara Co. update on vaccination plan
Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez, Supervisor Joe Simitian, and Community Health Partnership CEO Dolores Alvarado discussed the need for a transparent, coordinated vaccination plan for the county that will be considered at the board of supervisors meeting on Tuesday.

7:20 a.m.
Mill Valley requests permission to reopen outdoor dining
The city of Mill Valley is asking Governor Newsom for permission to reopen outdoor dining. The City Council approved two letters asking the Governor and county health officials to exempt outdoor dining from restrictions. In the letters, they stressed that local restaurants and their employees are struggling to survive. The letters also asks the state provide evidence that there is a risk associated with outdoor dining.

Jan. 10, 2021

12:45 p.m.
California reported another 49,685 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the state’s case total to nearly 2.7 million. A total of 468 people died of the virus and 21,647 remain hospitalized across the state. Of those hospitalized, 4,863 are in the ICU.

Jan. 9, 2021

5:25 p.m.
Bay Area remains under California’s stay-at-home order
The Bay Area remains under the state stay-at-home order because the ICU availability in the region remains well below the threshold of 15%. San Francisco already took action and extended its order indefinitely. In an update released Friday, the California Department of Public Health said “once a region’s four-week ICU projection shows a capacity of greater than or equal to 15%, the order will be lifted for that area” and “the state will assess the region’s ICU projections in the coming days and announce a formal decision on whether Bay Area meets criteria to exit the order.”

11 a.m.
New single-day record in deaths in CA since start of pandemic

Nearly 700 deaths have been reported in California breaking a new single-day record, according to state officials. The last highest single-day record was 585 deaths in the state on December 31, 2020.

Meanwhile, more than 52,000 new daily cases have been reported in the state which is the second highest number since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the latest state numbers:

New Cases: 52,636 (2,621,277 total)
7-day average: 39,338
14-day average: 39,187
Deaths: 695 (RECORD)
7-day average: 411
14-day average: 375
7-day positivity rate: 14%
14-day positivity rate: 14%
Hospitalizations: 21,754 (down 101 from yesterday)
ICU: 4,854 (up 42 from yesterday)

Jan. 8, 2021

12 p.m.
Bay Area ICU capacity drops to 3%
Here are the latest regional ICU capacity numbers:
Bay Area: 3.0% – the lowest since tracking started
Northern California: 27.5%
Greater Sacramento: 6.4%
San Joaquin Valley: 0.0%
Southern California: 0.0%

11 a.m.
Alarming new COVID-19 data shows massive winter surge in Bay Area
Ten months into the coronavirus pandemic, new COVID-19 cases in the Bay Area are increasing at an alarming clip. On Friday, the Bay Area crossed the 300,000-case threshold. We added those additional 100,000 cases shockingly fast — in just 24 days. See more data here.

9 a.m.
Joe Biden to speed release of COVID-19 vaccines upon taking office
President-elect Joe Biden will release most available COVID-19 vaccine doses to speed delivery to more people, a reversal of the Trump administration policy, his office said. Get the full story here.

6 a.m.
Bay Area’s stay-at-home order likely to be extended
The Bay Area’s stay-at-home order will likely be extended beyond today. ICU capacity has dropped to its lowest availability at 3.5% percent. The San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions continue to have no I-C-U availability. Zero percent doesn’t mean there are no beds – but rather hospitals have activated surge plans. Here are the latest county ICU totals in the Bay Area.

5 a.m.
Bay Area surges past 300,000 cases, nears 3,000 deaths
The Bay Area has pushed past more than 300,000 cases and is nearing 3,000 deaths.Here are the latest county-by-county totals.

Jan. 7, 2021

12:30 p.m.
California sees 2-day record of coronavirus deaths
California health authorities reported a record two-day total of 1,042 coronavirus deaths as many hospitals strain under unprecedented caseloads. The state Department of Public Health’s website listed 583 new deaths, a day after 459 deaths. The previous two-day record total was 1,013 deaths at the end of December. Get the full story here.

6:30 a.m.
Santa Clara Co. warns about emergency room delays
As a surge in COVID-19 cases continues, Santa Clara County officials are warning the public about delays for getting treated at in local emergency rooms. The emergency room is full At Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose. Some patients have to wait an indefinite amount of time to receive care. As hospitals take on additional COVID-19 patients that means less room for those suffering from other issues, such as heart attacks or strokes. As of the latest update… more than 720 people are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 countywide.

Jan. 6, 2021

12 p.m.
Dr. Ghaly to give update on COVID-19
California’s health secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly is speaking at noon alongside Department of Aging Director Kim McCoy Wade to give an update on COVID-19.

7:45 a.m.
SF approves $5 million fee waiver for small businesses
A fee waiver totaling $5 million was approved for restaurants and entertainment venues in San Francisco. It helps with costs like permit fees, business registration fees and taxes.

6:30 a.m.
Calif. orders some hospitals to stop elective surgeries
Some elective surgeries in California will be postponed again because of the extreme shortage of ICU beds. A new state order says non-essential surgeries will be delayed when a county is in a region with 0% ICU availability and that specific county has less than 10% ICU availability. Right now, that includes 14 counties in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions.

Jan. 5, 2021

3 p.m.
Kaiser Permanente San Jose COVID-19 outbreak linked to 51 cases, county health department says
The coronavirus outbreak at Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center’s emergency department is now linked to 51 cases, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department said. The outbreak was first reported on Saturday with 43 cases and the hospital confirmed that one employee died of COVID-19 complications on Monday. Read more here.

2 p.m.
CA reports 31,440 new COVID-19 cases
California reported 31,440 new cases of the coronavirus Tuesday, with 368 deaths. There were 21,597 hospitalizations with 4,634 in the ICU.

Latest regional ICU capacity numbers:
Bay Area: 5.9%
Northern California: 29.8%
Greater Sacramento: 11.7%
San Joaquin Valley: 0.0%
Southern California: 0.0%

12 p.m.
Grammy Awards postponed until March due to COVID-19 pandemic conditions
The 2021 Grammy Awards will no longer take place this month in Los Angeles and will broadcast in March due to a recent surge in coronavirus cases and deaths. Get the full story here.

10:45 a.m.
Solano Co. reports 1,742 new cases
Solano County is reporting 1,742 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours and two more deaths.

5:10 a.m.
US reports over 180,000 new cases
There were 180,477 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Monday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University. Monday’s tally is less than the all-time high of 297,491 new cases, which the country logged on Jan. 2, Johns Hopkins data shows.

Jan. 4, 2021

12:15 p.m.
UK prime minister orders new national coronavirus lockdown
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a new national lockdown for England until at least mid-February to combat a fast-spreading new version of the coronavirus. Get the full story here.

7:10 a.m.
Lafayette’s Business Assistance Program starts up again today
Some East Bay businesses are getting financial help to stay afloat. The city of Lafayette’s Business Assistance Program starts up again today. It ran for five months at the beginning of the pandemic. Nearly 100 businesses and non-profits each received more than $1,500 in federal assistance. The Mayor of Lafayette will host a webinar this week to provide information about the new funding.



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