Healthcare workers to strike in San Leandro

ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — Healthcare workers are taking a stand against what they say is an unsafe and mismanaged work environment.

Wednesday marks the start of a five-day strike, made up of nearly 3,000 Alameda Health System employees.

The disgruntled workers say layoffs and short-staffing are reducing patient safety and their own safety. They say they need enough nurses to guarantee safe patient limits, cleaners to disinfect facilities and nurse educators.

They also want the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to take over the countywide system that sees more than 328,000 patient visits per year, removing control from a volunteer Board of Trustees. 

The Alameda Health System said in a statement that it encourages the unions “to return to the bargaining table, where we can resolve our differences and reach agreement on a fair, mutually beneficial contract.”

The health system’s full press statement reads:

“At Alameda Health System, we take seriously our commitment to the patients and communities we serve. Through extensive planning and preparations, we will be able to continue to provide essential safe, quality care without significant disruption to our patients and the community. We apologize to our patients and community health partners for any inconvenience they may experience due to postponement or reduction of some services during the strike. While we are disappointed that the unions called this strike at a time when there are already extraordinary strains on healthcare providers, we encourage them to return to the bargaining table, where we can resolve our differences and reach agreement on a fair, mutually beneficial contract.”

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Cordero’s wife calls Trump COVID tweets ‘disgraceful’

(WJW) – Amanda Kloots, the wife of Broadway star Nick Cordero, is slamming President Trump for his tweets following his own diagnosis with coronavirus.

Cordero died in July following a three month battle with the disease, during which he had to have his right leg amputated and received a temporary pacemaker. Kloots shared her husband’s battle with fans on social media.

In an emotional post on Instagram this week, Kloots called out President Donald Trump.

Trump was hospitalized Friday after revealing he and the first lady tested positive.

He tweeted on Monday, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”

Kloots posted a screengrab of the tweet to Instagram and wrote, “There is no empathy to all the lives lost. He is bragging instead. It is sad. It is hurtful. It is disgraceful.”

“To all the over 208,000 Americans who lost loved ones to this virus – I stand by you, with you, holding your hand,” Kloots wrote. “Unfortunately it did dominate our lives didn’t it? It dominated Nick’s family’s lives and my family’s lives.”

She said not everyone who battles coronavirus spends just a few days in the hospital.

“I cried next to my husband for 95 days watching what COVID did to the person I love. It IS something to be afraid of,” she wrote.

“After you see the person you love the most die from this disease you would never say what this tweet says.”

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UC Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna wins Nobel Prize

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — A local biochemist has just won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna, along with colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier, were recognized Wednesday for “the co-development of CRISPR-Cas9, a genome editing breakthrough,” according to Berkeley.

“It has not only revolutionized basic science, but also resulted in innovative crops and will lead to groundbreaking new medical treatments,” the chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry, Claes Gustafsson, said.

“My greatest hope is that it’s used for good, to uncover new mysteries in biology and to benefit humankind,” Doudna told the Associated Press Wednesday morning.

At Berkeley, Doudna serves many roles. The university said she is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, president and chair of the board of the Innovative Genomics Institute, a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and a senior investigator at the Gladstone Institutes.

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McDonald’s just added these 3 items to its menu

DALLAS (NEXSTAR) — After the craze produced by McDonald’s Spicy Chicken McNuggets, the fast-food giant is turning to its sweet tooth with its latest menu offerings.

McDonald’s says it’s expanding its McCafé Bakery lineup with three new offerings available starting October 28.

You’ll soon be able to enjoy an apple fritter, blueberry muffin and cinnamon roll. The company says these are the first additions to its bakery lineup in the last eight years.

McDonald’s USA vice president, brand and menu strategy Linda VanGosen said the additions grow a strong breakfast brand that’s been around for five decades.

“We’re continuing our breakfast innovation by adding tasty new sweet options with our new McCafé Bakery lineup,” said VanGosen in a news release. “We know our customers deserve a break now more than ever, and are excited to give them another reason to visit their favorite breakfast destination by offering delicious flavors they crave, any time of the day.”

McCafé coffee has been around since 2009.

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Vallejo to declare public safety emergency

VALLEJO, Calif. (KRON) – A rise in violence, years of controversial deadly shootings, and questionable practices by officers is now prompting Vallejo city leaders to declare a public safety emergency. 

Leaders say it’s another step to move the city forward, but officers say they’re not convinced.  

The City Council held a special meeting Tuesday night to discuss just that. They have tabled this discussion for at least two more weeks.

The city says the action is needed to tackle a number of crises head-on but the police union says it’s a political move that makes them the scapegoats.  

Grappling with it’s most violent year since 1994, numerous officer-involved shootings in recent years, questionable uses of force, internal investigations over claims officers bending their badges to mark kills, and a worldwide pandemic — The combination, is why Vallejo city leaders say a public safety emergency is needed. 

“We have 22 homicides, 116 rapes, aggravated assaults 539. Almost all of our crime statistics are on the update lack from Vallejo Police officers association,” Greg Nyhoff said.

The move would allow the city to hire more workers inside the police department to help with rapid rise in crime more quickly.  

It would also allow the city to tackle several pending lawsuits involving the police department’s use of force and shootings. 

The city says it would also move forward with implementing reform changes as part of a use of force study. 

Peter Hoffman is with the Vallejo Police Officers Association. The union says the move is nothing more than “a power grab” from the city which could set a dangerous precedent. 

“This isn’t about public safety, this is about frankly attacking the Vallejo police officers,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman says under the move, the city would be allowed to make its own rules when it comes to due process for officers under investigation. 

“I don’t think it’s ever going to be a good idea to leave the workforce by the wayside and just announce edicts of what’s going to happen to them as employees. I believe the department would benefit from the knowledge and experience of the officers,” Hoffman said. “If things don’t get corrected, I envision an exodus of police officers.” 

City leaders say they believe this is the right move for the city going forward. 

Another big concern for the city, those lawsuits — Right now, there are 24-pending lawsuits against the city in federal courts which could cost the city as much as $50-million. 

Hoffman says the union will pursue legal action against the city to keep the declaration from being implemented. 

Both sides are set to meet tomorrow for the first time to talk about how to implement the reforms.

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San Francisco: Violent brawl concerns neighbors

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – A neighbor in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury District captured a video over the weekend showing an all-out brawl break out in the middle of the day.

The video has been picking up steam on social media, as businesses and neighbors on Haight Street are growing concerned.

The brawl happened at Haight and Clayton Street on Saturday.

While some neighbors say the video was the first time they’ve seen a fight like this in the area, others tell KRON4 this is becoming a regular occurence.

Police were seen earlier on Tuesday talking to residents about the fight and clearing tent encampments nearby. 

An employee who works on Haight Street didn’t want to show their face out of fear of retaliation says he had to break up a separate fight on Monday.

“I tried yelling out at them. They told me, “No. He deserves it. He stole from. He stole from us.” So I don’t know. I don’t see any control. I didn’t see any police in the area yesterday. Thank god they’re here today.”

San Francisco police say they’re investigating Saturday’s incident.

Police returned to the area on Tuesday asking neighbors about the fight and tried clearing some of the encampments nearby.

At the same time some neighbors believe the homeless were involved with the brawl.

A group calling itself ‘Safe Healthy Haight,’ posted the video on Twitter. .They tell KRON4 News that, “The city is using the Haight as a containment zone,” by allowing tent villages. They later say this threatens public health and the survival of the neighborhood’s surrounding small businesses.

Other owners on Haight street say recent activity on the streets makes it harder for business.

“Tensions are high right now, even among the homeless population in San Francisco too. As far as the neighbors go around here, it’s not. People don’t want to walk their kids down the street to the market, but it’s getting out of control, definitely getting out of control.” 

Meanwhile, the President of the Local Merchant Association who owns a bookstore on Haight Street says she only recognized one of the people in the video as someone who’s a local transient.

Supervisor Dean Preston says he was deeply disturbed to learn about the violent incident in his District. No injuries were reported and everyone seems to be okay.

San Francisco police are looking for more information about the incident.

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Early voting underway in Contra Costa County

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KRON) – “Voters already know how they want to vote and also I think voters have learned in 2020 you can’t count on anything being normal tomorrow. Voters are not taking any chances of getting their ballots in,” Assistant Registrar of Voters in Contra Costa County Scott Konopasek said. 

We are less than one month away from Election Day but people aren’t waiting until November 3rd to vote.

Many of them are already mailing in their ballots or turning them in at drop boxes.

There are 37 drop boxes in Contra Costa County and people were at every single one that KRON4 stopped by Tuesday.

“Voters have been returning their ballots either by mail or in our drop boxes in record breaking fashion,” Konopasek said. 

Contra Costa County voters turning in their ballots early. Officials say they received 46 trays of mail on Tuesday alone and about a total of 16,000 ballots so far.

“Today, I can say that we have, through the mail, we have 12,000 ballots, and from drop boxes probably 4,000,” Konopasek said. 

All boxes officially opened by noon on Monday — Scott Konopasek, the Assistant Registrar of Voters for the county said the drop box in front of their office was the busiest it’s ever been.

“Just during normal business hours over 500 ballots were deposited by voters. It was a non-stop stream of voters all day long,” Konopasek said. 

All ballot boxes are serviced each day by two county employees.

There are 37 ballot boxes located throughout the county.

“Voters are voting early they heard the message they are voting early, they are not taking chances. It’s what we like to see and now we have started our processing a week earlier than what we would have based upon the volume itself,” Konopasek said. 

All 37 drop boxes in the county are open. They are available 24/7.

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Scenic turnouts closed to public in Oakland to prevent wildfires

OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Popular turnouts along scenic Grizzly Peak Boulevard in the East Bay Hills have been entirely blocked off from the public.

The cities of Oakland, Berkeley and a park district are working together to prohibit gatherings at those locations to minimize the high fire risk.

Nine turnouts along Grizzly Peak Boulevard from Berkeley through Oakland are now off limits to the public.

Initially, last month, the two cities in partnership with UC Berkeley and the East Bay Regional Park District committed to shutting the areas off late at night through the early morning but not everyone listened — so, this is the next step.

“It’s a pity they have to be blocked off. But they do have to be blocked off. I’ve seen nighttime and daytime, but mostly nighttime behavior up here that’s absolutely crazy,” resident Phillip Price said.

Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb says prohibiting the public from parking or gathering at the turnouts will lessen the fire danger.

“Whether it’s a Red Flag day or not a Red Flag day, they need to be cautious about their actions. We cannot have any fireworks up here — fireworks are illegal, period, here in Oakland. We cannot have any fireworks up here. People should not be smoking up here. No BBQ’s or it fires up in the hills area during the fire season,” Councilmember Kalb said. 

UC Berkeley provided the large tree logs used to block off the turnouts.

Eventually Kalb says chains will be added to them to prevent the logs from being moved.

“I don’t want to see that year-round. I just want to see that closed off during the high fire season,” Kalb said. 

Meanwhile, the East Bay Regional Park District’s fire services crews are clearing brush and creating fire breaks in the hills, knocking down fuels that could potentially catch fire. 

Fire services working to avoid a disaster like 1991 when the Oakland Hills firestorm killed 25 people and destroyed thousands of homes.

“If there’s an area immediately adjacent to where someone does foolishly light fireworks, and it can’t spread, that’s where our fuel breaks really help out,” Fire Captain Kent Simpson said. 

All it takes is one spark.

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Bay Area doctor says Trump’s decisions may be impaired

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Doctor Robert Wachter, chair of the Department of Medicine at UCSF, weighed in on Trump’s coronavirus condition on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show”.

Wachter tweeted Tuesday night that Trump’s decision to stop negotiations over another round of stimulus checks could be the result of steroids.

Wachter also released a video doing a deep dive into Trump’s case. A Summary will be released soon.

Additionally, UCSF infectious disease specialists gathered online during the afternoon on Tuesday to discuss COVID-19 and President Trump. They say if there one teaching moment from this, it has to do with masks

“I hope that it results in some policy changes in the white house in terms of mask wearing and it emphasizes that testing alone isnt sufficient to prevent spread of coronavirus,” said M.D. UCSF infectious disease expert Chaz Langelier.

The experts also say it reminds us, that while outside is safer than inside, that does not mean outside is necessarily safe. 

“You get no points for being outdoors if you are within a foot of people if you are infectious, thats all about droplet spread, and it happens when you talk, you dont have to be sneezing or talking and these guys talk a lot,” said UCSF epidemiology professor Dr. George Rutherford. 

“I have a huge amount of respect for this disease, I have seen 40 year olds become very ill in the ICU, I have seen older people become very ill, i have seen those i thought would be going home the next day becoming very ill, so i have alot of respect this is a very serious disease it is not influenza, it is not the common cold,” said UCSF professor of medicine Annie Luetkemeyer. 

The president also tweeted he is looking forward to next week’s debate with Joe Biden, but medical experts say it’s too early to say if the president’s COVID 19 issues are behind him.

Medical experts say they are monitoring information from the White House.

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Safari West reopens after Glass Fire forces closure

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KRON) – It is a Bay Area treasure — Safari West in Santa Rosa had to close down operations when the Glass Fire erupted nine days ago.   

The preserve is located just outside the evacuation zones.

On Tuesday though, as the fire is now 50 percent contained and evacuation orders continue to be downgraded, the preserve was able to safely reopen.

“It’s a great afternoon, we’re open!” 

Eager to greet guests once again, executive director of Safari West Keo Hornbostel says the last week was a bit touch and go after the Glass Fire forced evacuations and road closures leading to the preserve.

“It basically forced us to close down, and just out of sheer prudence because of the smoke levels we had, we kept it closed through this last weekend, but we opened up tents last night and all of our tours are going strong today,” Hornbostel said.

The preserve is home to 98 different species and nearly a thousand animals. Keo says staff stayed on the property throughout the week. 

“Our animal staff stayed on site the whole time we had vets here to monitor the animals health and they did fine. During these smoke events, they become a little more lethargic, but they’re fine and the vets gave us a clean bill of health. It’s funny our animals stay lethargic when there’s no guests here but they get very excited when they see the trucks roll through,” Hornbostel said.

Safari West nearly sold out excursions during Tuesday’s return.

The preserve does drills just about every month just to keep themselves prepared for potential wildfires.

They say they link up with Cal Fire regularly too to make sure all of their efforts to keep the property safe are up to date. 

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