Newsom announces new restrictions in 19 CA counties

“California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced new restrictions for 19 counties on the state’s watch list due to the increased spread of COVID-19 and ‘increased concern,'” as the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting.

“Newsom ordered the counties — which include Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Solano in the Bay Area — to halt, or not reopen, indoor operations at restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and card rooms.

“‘This doesn’t mean restaurants shut down,’ Newsom said. ‘It means we try to take as many activities as we can, these concentrated activities, and move them outdoors, which is a way of mitigating the spread of this virus.’

“Bars in the counties must shut down or remain closed if they had not yet reopened.

“The new orders will remain in effect for at least three weeks.”

The rest of the article is here.

Could face shields replace masks in preventing COVID-19?

“Face masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but some people find them awkward, uncomfortable or downright unbearable to wear,” according to Healthday.

“There’s another good option available for people who just can’t get used to strapping on a face mask while out in public, experts say.

“Plastic face shields offer another means of deterring COVID-19 that some might find easier, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in Baltimore.

“They’re clear plastic or plexiglass shields that cover the entire face, from the forehead down to the chin or lower. An elastic headband holds the shield in place.

“Face shields have been shown to reduce viral exposure by 96% when worn within 18 inches of a cough, and by 92% at the currently recommended 6 feet of social distancing, according to a recent editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

(I hope the use of face shields also is discussed at tonight’s Nevada City Council meeting, where wearing masks to prevent COVID-19 is going to be a heated topic).

“‘Face shields may supplant these masks, eventually,’ Adalja said. ‘I think there’s much more evidence supporting their use.’

“While not as popularly promoted as face masks, face shields are available for purchase online. Amazon offers many different brands of face shields, including one developed by its own engineers.

“Shields offer a number of benefits over masks, but also a few drawbacks, experts said.

“Because they extend down from the forehead, shields protect the eyes as well as the nose and mouth, said Dr. Frank Esper, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Center. Viruses can enter the body through the eyes.

“Adalja noted that face shields also can be more comfortable for people to wear. “It feels less obstructive on their mouth and nose than a mask,” he said.

“Esper pointed out that ‘you don’t get to feel the breeze on your face, but you do get some fresh air, rather than trying to breathe through a cloth mask.’

“Person-to-person communication is better with a face shield. People can see your whole face through the shield, making it easier for folks to talk, Adalja said.

‘Many people when they’re talking to people will take off their mask or bring it down. People reflexively do that because their voice is muffled by the mask,’ Adalja said. ‘You can see people’s facial expressions much better with a face shield.’

“The shields are relatively lightweight and comfortable to wear. They’re also reusable, if a person takes the time to clean them with an antibacterial wipe or soap and water after an outing, Adalja and Esper said.

“Esper stressed that regular cleaning will be necessary because one drawback of the shields is that they provide an apt surface upon which the virus can survive.

‘We know this virus likes to live on plastic a lot better than it likes to live on porous materials like cloth, paper or cardboard,’ he explained.

“The type of protection a face shield provides is also very different from that of face masks, the experts said.

“Masks protect others around you from germs you are carrying. Face shields do the opposite, protecting you from being infected by the people around you.

“‘It protects you, the wearer'” Esper said. ‘But if you cough, because this face shield is away from your face, those droplets can still get out better than if you have a mask on, where they basically get sucked up by the mask itself.’

“Doctors working with sick people wear both a face mask and a face shield, and the combination offers the best protection against viral spread, Esper said.

“However, Esper and Adalja think average folks should be able to use either device by itself.

“‘Folks out in the community are having a hard enough time with one or the other, let alone asking them to wear both,’ Esper said.”

The complete article is here.

Nevada City Council expected to pass mask resolution after a contentious meeting

After a public meeting that could wind up being redolent of a harrowing visit to the Land of Oz before returning to the bliss of Kansas, the Nevada City Council on Tuesday night is expected to pass a resolution affirming the California Department of Public Health’s guidance “mandating the wearing of face coverings in high-risk situations” and encouraging all of us to follow suit.

I hope the Council addresses face shields too (more details here).

With Major League Baseball on hiatus, you might want to watch the proceedings (but be forewarned that the meeting could last longer than a nine-inning baseball game). This virtual gathering will start at 6 p.m., via Zoom teleconference. The meeting will be broadcast online at the city’s website, or  Nevada City Public Meetings-YouTube Channel or at http://nevco.granicus.com/player/camera/2?publish_id=7.

The City Hall staff report — ranging from random emails from locals and others to signed form letters “asking for the resignation of Reinette Senum” because the Col. Lambert Award winner “harms the well being of our beloved city” —is here. Reinette, locals might recall, is the local lightening rod — who also has received numerous awards for her community service and has received a lot of votes in local elections. Examples here and here. She now is the mayor, thanks to a procedure that makes it a ceremonial title. Here’s the letter I was talking about:

Here’s a dose of light-hearted humor regarding a visit to the “other” Land of Oz, but don’t expect to see much humor expressed in the local version. (Full disclosure: We wear masks in stores and other public gathering places and practice six-foot social distancing in this COVID-19 era.):

Johns Hopkins is putting our donation for tackling COVID-19 to good work

As I’ve mentioned previously, our son is an incoming freshman at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore this fall, majoring in biomedical engineering. As a birthday gift, I made a generous donation to Johns Hopkins Medicine on his behalf, targeted toward handling the fallout from COVID-19. JHU has been a leader for its work related to COVID-19, including the “dashboard” that is regularly mentioned in the national media. We received a “Thank You” from Johns Hopkins Medicine this afternoon, along with this video:

Supervisors select Sierra Business Council to lead County Economic Development initiatives

The Rood Center issued this press release:

The Board of Supervisors unanimously selected the Sierra Business Council (SBC) to manage the County’s economic development initiatives with a focus on business technical assistance, public-private sector coordination, and expanding internet access countywide.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the urgent need to extend rural broadband to support telecommuting and distance learning,” said Board Chair Heidi Hall. “Internet is an essential aspect of our economic infrastructure, and we can no longer afford to wait.”

Two of the contract’s key deliverables include providing technical assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs through SBC’s Small Business Development Center and facilitating ‘warm handoffs’ between new businesses looking to set up shop in Nevada County with the appropriate County staff. SBC intends to set up a satellite office in the Rood Center to maximize coordination, assist in permitting, and advise on multi-jurisdictional infrastructure and development projects.

“Having the Sierra Business Council embedded with the County represents a new direction for us,” said County CEO Alison Lehman. “I’m also very pleased that SBC will be partnering and subcontracting with the Economic Resource Council to continue bringing the County, Grass Valley, Nevada City, Truckee, our private sector and nonprofit leaders to the table and get meaningful results – more high-quality jobs and new economic opportunities.”

While the Economic Resource Council (ERC) held the economic development contract with the County for the past five years, ERC Chair Lisa Swarthout expressed her support for SBC’s new lead role at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, explaining that the two groups will partner under a separate agreement. “The ERC is proud of our longtime efforts to build a resilient and sustainable local economy. Our partnership with SBC will ensure that our business community has access to vital technical assistance and resources.”

“Our goal is to help Nevada County realize its full economic potential through strategic efforts to retain and expand existing and new businesses and create more higher wage jobs. Working together, we will succeed in expanding access to broadband and increase our regional competitiveness,” said Kristin York, Vice President of the Sierra Business Council. Currently, SBC manages the Gold Country Broadband Consortium with the mission to increase digital access, and partners with the County on the Last-Mile Broadband project now underway, which will connect 135 households and 14 businesses to the internet by the end of 2020.

The County’s $165,000 contract may be renewed for a one- or two-year extension in subsequent years.

Remembering The Chronicle’s award-winning science writer David Perlman

As I noted last week, David Perlman, the award-winning science writer at San Francisco Chronicle, died at age 101 (https://www.sfchronicle.com/…/David-Perlman-award-winning-C…) All of us who worked with Dave at The Chronicle admired him. He was a mentor to the writers in their 20s (including me in the 1980s).

“Perlman covered the 1969 moon landing from near Mission Control, and he and his late Chronicle colleague Randy Shilts were among the first journalists in the nation to write about a mysterious disease that was later named AIDS. He covered climate change, earthquakes, solar eclipses and the extinction of species, and his interest in protecting the Marin County coast was credited with inspiring the creation of the Point Reyes National Seashore.” (see Pacific Media Workers Guild newsletter https://bit.ly/3di3yaA)

“As City Editor in the late ’70s, he directed the coverage of two shattering events — the People’s Temple mass suicides in Guyana in 1978 and the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk at San Francisco City Hall 11 days later.”

Last week, The Guild newsletter published a video made on Dave’s last day at the Chronicle in 2017, 77 years after he started there: After nearly seven decades of reporting, David Perlman, 98, retires from the San Francisco Chronicle.

PG&E pleads guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the Camp Fire

“The country’s largest utility pleaded guilty Tuesday to 84 felony counts of involuntary manslaughter stemming from the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history,” as USA Today and others are reporting.

“Pacific Gas & Electric, long accused of putting profits before customer safety, has acknowledged its neglected equipment set off the fire that destroyed most of the Northern California town of Paradise in 2018. The Camp Fire claimed the lives of 85 people, but prosecutors weren’t sure they could establish one of the deaths was the company’s fault. The blaze destroyed more than 18,000 structures and burned 153,000 acres. 

“At Tuesday’s hearing in superior court in Butte County, where what’s left of Paradise is located, Judge Michael Deems recited the 84 counts one by one as photos of the victims were shown on a courtroom screen.”

The rest of the article is here.

Scoop: Dutch Bros coffee coming to Fowler Center in GV

Dutch Bros Coffee, one of the West’s largest coffee chains based in Grants Pass, Ore., plans to open a new location at the Fowler Center in Grass Valley, Sierra Foothills Report has learned.

“Dutch Bros is coming Spring 2021” to the Fowler Center at 2118 Nevada City Hwy., according to a separate commercial real estate listing in the Center.

“Dutch Bros is coming to Grass Valley in the Fowler Center (where the old vacant building (Ruby’s) is now,” Joy Porter, board chairman of the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce and a local photographer, wrote tonight on her Facebook page, offering further confirmation.

“Working on the existing building demo now, just submitted the permit application — it’s happening! They are constructing an approximate 1k sq. ft building with covered patio for outside seating and walk up window as well.”

Dutch Bros (pronounced as “bros,” not “brothers”) is the nation’s largest, privately held drive-thru coffee company, with more than 390 locations in eight western states and over 12,000 workers, as its website states.

“Its coffee kiosks serve specialty coffee drinks, smoothies, freezes, teas, a private-label Dutch Bros Blue Rebel energy drink and nitro-infused cold brew coffee. A proprietary three-bean blend is still roasted to perfection from its Grants Pass headquarters. Meanwhile, Dutch Bros, its owner/operators and the Dutch Bros Foundation remain committed to the community, donating millions of dollars annually to nonprofit organizations and local causes.”

Readers might have noticed that Dutch Bros. has a drive-thru kiosk location at 3995 Grass Valley Hwy. in North Auburn. It opened in 2009.

Dutch Bros Coffee was founded in 1992 by entrepreneurs Dane and Travis Boersma. “After three generations in the dairy business, the brothers decided to use changes in the industry as motivation to branch out and try something new. The bros bought a double-head espresso machine, cranked up the stereo, threw open the barn doors and started experimenting with 100 pounds of beans,” the website reads. (Dane died from ALS in 2009).

“Dutch Bros has a different, hipper vibe than both those big players,” such as Starbucks and Dunkin’, according to an article in Forbes.

We are longtime fans and regular customers of Caroline’s Coffee Roasters — locally owned and operated — in historic downtown Grass Valley. But we wish the “bros” (AKA Dutch Brothers) luck.