SF's Oldest Gay Bar, The Stud, to Close

The coronavirus has claimed another small business: The Stud, San Francisco's oldest gay bar still in operation — until today that is.

Wednesday night, a month before San Francisco's 50th annual Pride celebration, the cooperatively owned LGBT venue announced its closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of revenue.

The Stud has operated in San Francisco for 55 years, according to its owners. But don't count it out just yet.

Honey Mahogany, one of the club's owners and alum of RuPaul's Drag Race, said they're all collectively committed to finding a new home for the historic bar, which has played home to so many drag performances, comedy nights and raunchy, titillating events of all kinds.

"Everyone who is an owner feels strongly this is not the end of The Stud," Mahogany said.

The Stud's cooperative owners are seeking new venues, but it will cost at least $500,000, Mahogany said, which they do not have — yet.

The road ahead is long but, "We're working on it. We have not identified any locations, we are committed to finding one in the future, we just don't know when," Mahogany said.

With shelter-in-place orders in mind, The Stud cannot have a "goodbye" event in the bar, so on May 31 a funeral will be aired on Twitch.tv, Mahogany said.

— Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez (@FitztheReporter)

COVID-19 Cases at Folsom State Prison Surge Over 100

The COVID-19 outbreak at Folsom State Prison has now grown to over 100 cases, and a prison employee who worked there has died from the virus, state authorities said.

Folsom now has more active cases of COVID-19 than San Quentin State Prison, where cases have dropped to around 90 after an explosive outbreak that began in June.

Both prisons are two of the oldest detention facilities in the state, and their architecture has contributed to the virus’ rapid spread inside, say public health experts.

“What you have in San Quentin and Folsom are cell blocks that are five tiers, one stacked on top of each other, all facing a common atrium,” said Stefano Bertozzi, a professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. “From a re-breathing of air perspective, it’s like a giant dorm, instead of having people socially distanced within individual cells with their own ventilation to the outside.”

Bertozzi is concerned that the outbreak at Folsom could follow a similar trajectory as at San Quentin, where more than 2,000 incarcerated people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past couple months and 25 have died.

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The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said additional health care workers have been sent to Folsom to help respond to the outbreak. The department has also set up tents on the grounds there to quarantine and treat incarcerated people with the virus.

— Marco Siler-Gonzales (@mijo_marco)

Newsom Says California Is 'Moving in the Right Direction' on COVID-19 Response

Gov. Gavin Newsom says the shrinking number of Californians hospitalized with COVID-19 is an "encouraging" sign that the state is moving past its summer coronavirus spike.

Newsom's optimism at a Wednesday press briefing came as the governor seeks to avoid a repeat of the reopening he allowed this spring — when virus restrictions were quickly lifted and followed by a surge of infections and new business closures.

"Even if we modify [restrictions], we have to maintain our vigilance and we’ll need a commensurate public awareness campaign and enforcement campaign with any subsequent modifications," Newsom said.

When the state initially began to ease stay-at-home restrictions in May, county reopenings outpaced the Newsom administration's own benchmarks, and infections quickly stretched the capacity of the state's testing and contact tracing systems.

Any future reopening of the economy, Newsom said, will have to be accompanied by an increased observance of mitigation measures, like mask wearing, that has slowed the spread of the coronavirus.

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“What we are doing as a state, what you are doing is working," Newsom said. "Wearing those face masks is responsible, I believe disproportionately, for this trend line."

Over the last two weeks, the number of Californians hospitalized with COVID-19 has fallen 19%, while the number of ICU admittances due to the virus has dropped by 16%.

"This is what gives me confidence that we’re moving in the right direction," Newsom said.

While hospitalizations present a lagging indicator of the virus' impact on the state, tracking the spread of infections in recent days has been complicated by a data problem that caused nearly 300,000 test records to go unreported in a state system.

On Wednesday, Newsom detailed the complicated process of adding backlogged cases to the state's total.

Old cases will initially be reported with the day's new infections — resulting in an artificially high count of 11,645 "new" cases on Wednesday — before eventually being reallocated to the day the infection was reported.

Newsom's explanation came at the tail end of a lengthy presentation on the administration's economic initiatives and goals.

"If you’re following me, I’m impressed and grateful," he said.

— Guy Marzorati (@GuyMarzorati)

Santa Clara County Extends COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved an extension to an eviction moratorium for both private and commercial tenants.

The moratorium extends protections toward tenants who cannot pay their rent or mortgage because of job or wage loss related to COVID-19, and was originally set to expire on Aug. 31.

A new expiration date for the eviction ban will be decided at the next supervisors meeting on Aug. 25, and could include additional protections for tenants and fines for landlords who violate the moratorium.

A report by Working Partnerships USA found that more than 43,000 rental units in the county were at risk of being evicted once the previous moratorium was set to expire.

“I used the phrase earlier, 'buying some time.' We have done that, we are continuing to do that,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian said. “We need the state and federal government ... to use that time to get to meaningful, long-term solutions to some of those very difficult challenges."

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A board referral brought by Supervisor Cindy Chavez also asks board members to work with county counsel and local organizations to ensure that the moratorium laws are effective for small business tenants.

"Despite the moratorium, some landlords have ignored the law and are trying to force their tenants to defend costly lawsuits," Chavez said.

Santa Clara County's unlawful detainer courtroom, which reviews eviction cases, reopened on Aug. 5, but state laws bar the court from hearing any new cases. However, landlords can still file new cases, and when the statewide eviction moratorium is eventually lifted, the court can resume operations.

"The only cure that is going to happen is people going back to work and there has to be tolerance and understanding from landlords and tenants working together," Supervisor Mike Wasserman said.

— Bay City News

Contra Costa County to Expand COVID-19 Testing Capacity, Open 2 New Testing Centers

With laboratories overwhelmed by a growing volume of COVID-19 testing that is creating "significant delays" in test result returns, Contra Costa Health Services is beefing up its lab capacity and opening two new testing centers this week in West County, health officials said Tuesday.

The move comes as community spread of the coronavirus continues, especially in Contra Costa County's communities of color, according to Dr. Erika Jenssen of Contra Costa Health Services.

Jenssen and Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa's health officer, spoke Tuesday to the county Board of Supervisors. Farnitano said high testing volumes have resulted in delays in getting test results to the public, in some cases as long as three weeks. That, he said, limits the very usefulness of those tests.

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To add to the county's testing capability, the county's own two lab facilities will get additional equipment to allow for processing hundreds of test samples a day with a one-to two-day turnaround time, Farnitano said.

That added capacity, Farnitano told the supervisors, is primarily for "highest-risk populations" including seniors and front-line emergency workers.

Contra Costa County is also looking to other labs, including state-run facilities in Richmond and Hayward, for help with processing test samples.

Additionally, two new testing centers — at the county's North Richmond Center for Health and at the Richmond Civic Center — should be up and running this week, Jenssen said.

— Bay City News

New San Francisco Budget Allocates $446 Million to Coronavirus Response

San Francisco expects to spend $446 million in the coming fiscal year to continue fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor London Breed announced Tuesday.

About $93 million will come out of the city’s general fund, while the rest will be covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state grants and federal coronavirus relief funds.

“We can crush this virus if we all do our part,” Breed said at a press conference announcing the new budget.

The largest expenditure of about $185 million will support “health operations” and pay for COVID-19 testing, personal protective equipment, bolstering hospital and skilled nursing facilities, contact tracing and community outreach.

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The mayor’s budget also includes $16.5 million for the city’s COVID-19 command center, which is responsible for coordinating various city agencies’ response efforts. About $183 million is budgeted to pay for shelter, food and medical care for the city’s unsheltered residents, while $46 million will go to programs that address food insecurity.

“People who are confronting the loss of a job or health insurance will need to turn to the city in new ways to help them through this crisis,” said San Francisco Human Services Agency Executive Director Trent Rhorer.

— Monica Lam (@monicazlam), Karishma Patadia (@karishmapatadia)

Veteran San Quentin Guard Dies of COVID-19

A veteran guard at San Quentin State Prison has died as a result of the coronavirus, marking the first COVID-19 death of an employee at the California lockup where a large outbreak has infected staff and inmates, corrections officials said.

Sgt. Gilbert Polanco, an Army veteran and guard at San Quentin since 1988, died after being hospitalized for more than a month, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.

"Our hearts are broken as we awaken to the news of the passing of our beloved Sergeant, colleague, and friend," acting San Quentin Warden Ron Broomfield said in a statement Sunday. "Sgt. Gilbert Polanco demonstrated unwavering commitment and bravery as a peace officer working the frontline every day during this devastating pandemic.

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Of more than 260 staff members infected by the virus at San Quentin, Polanco is the first to die. He's the ninth corrections employee to die of the virus statewide.

Also Sunday, corrections officials announced the death of San Quentin inmate Pedro Arias, 58, from "what appears to be complications related to COVID-19." Officials said in a statement that a coroner will determine the exact cause.

At least two dozen inmates at the prison near San Francisco have died from COVID-19 complications.

Arias was sentenced to death in Sacramento County on Feb. 22, 1990 for first-degree murder and second-degree robbery, officials said.

- The Associated Press

Protesters Demand ICE Release Detainees, Citing Pandemic

Protesters are calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to stop transferring undocumented people from state prisons and local jails to immigration detention facilities because of the pandemic.

They gathered at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in downtown San Francisco Saturday to demand the release of undocumented immigrants from ICE detention centers across the state.

Immigration activist Judith Garcia says transfers from state prisons and local jails could introduce COVID-19 into immigration facilities.

"They need to stop," Garcia said. "And we need to pressure Newsom and all the politicians to act on it. So these transfers don't keep happening."

On Friday, a federal judge ordered immigration officials to stop sending new detainees to a private facility in Bakersfield with a growing COVID-19 outbreak.

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— Shannon Lin (@LinShannonLin)