Exploring Privacy of Coronavirus Exposure Notification System

Millions of Californians have gotten a push notification on their phones asking them to opt in to CA Notify to get warnings from their phones if they have been in close proximity to someone who later tested positive for the coronavirus. Gennie Gebhart, the activism director with the digital civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation, explained to “Civic” how the system works and what information is exchanged.

California has lifted its emergency lockdown order, and San Francisco will get official word on its new tier assignment Tuesday. City leaders expect San Francisco to be placed in the purple tier, which will once again allow outdoor dining. In October, Cheese Plus installed canvas dividers between tables along its Pacific Avenue sidewalk in the city’s Russian Hill neighborhood.

Lockdown Ends — Outdoor Dining, Other Restrictions to Be Lifted

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said Monday that the state’s decision to lift an emergency lockdown order to contain the COVID-19 surge is “good news’’ and a “cause for celebration” even as she cautioned residents that “we have to just use common sense and continue to just accept that we are going to be living with this for some time.” City leaders expect San Francisco to be placed in the purple tier, which will once again allow outdoor dining, limited indoor personal services — if clients and patrons can both wear masks — more capacity in retail stores and the reopening of outdoor museums, zoos, skate parks and golf courses.


Reporter Investigates Firing of Utility Regulator’s Director After She Uncovered Missing $200 Million

After she pointed to millions of dollars in uncollected fees for public services and alleged serious mismanagement problems, the executive director of California’s utility regulator, the California Public Utilities Commission, was fired. Commissioners said Alice Stebbins had misled the public about missing funds and accused her of favoritism in hiring. But an investigation by the Bay City News Foundation and ProPublica looked into the dismissal, and found the director had been right about the missing money.

Ensign Kaitlyn Leibing, right, a staff nurse assigned to one of Naval Medical Center San Diego’s internal medicine wards, helps Hospitalman Angela Mello don personal protective equipment before entering a COVID-19-positive, non-critical patient’s room on Aug. 4, 2020.

Doctors Work Through Coronavirus Surge, Stress, Patient Isolation as Vaccines Arrive

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that hospitals need to get ready for what he described as a potential “surge on top of a surge, arguably on top of another surge” of COVID-19 cases stemming from the holidays. In the Bay Area, hospitals still have some ICU capacity left, but health care practitioners are working hard to care for the influx of COVID-19 patients. The surge is leaving workers stretched thin and patients isolated.

Photo courtesy of Jason McDaniel

After a Political Year Defined by a Pandemic and Presidential Appointments, What’s Next?

The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the presidency and vice-presidency left several roles for Gov. Gavin Newsom to fill, and politicians from around the state, including San Francisco Mayor London Breed, have weighed in on Newsom’s choice of Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill Harris’ seat in the U.S. Senate. San Francisco State University politics professor Jason McDaniel joined “Civic” to analyze Newsom’s choice, and the decision he has yet to make about filling state Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s position.

Francisco Ugarte, managing attorney of the San Francisco Public Defender's immigration defense unit, holds a banner with the late Public Defender Jeff Adachi at a community rally for immigrants' rights in 2018.

S.F. Immigration Defense Unit Represents Immigrants Statewide Through Pandemic

San Francisco’s office of the public defender has a unit dedicated to defending immigrants in court. In most states, they often have no representation because there is no right to counsel in immigration cases. Francisco Ugarte, managing attorney of this unit, talked with “Civic” about how handoffs between agencies work and what happens to someone who is arrested by immigration enforcement in San Francisco, as well as a class action suit the unit helped litigate over COVID-19 outbreaks in detention facilities.

Mayor London Breed at a city coronavirus press conference. Screen capture from SFGovTV

S.F. Will Reverse Re-Opening Amid Statewide COVID-19 Case Surge

San Francisco’s COVID-19 risk level as assessed by the state will move from “minimal” to “substantial” on Tuesday, Mayor London Breed announced Monday. As a result, she said, non-essential offices will have to close and gym occupancy will need to be reduced from a maximum of 25% to a maximum of 10% of capacity.