Bay Briefing: California COVID-19 hospitalizations hit new high

Good morning, Bay Area. It’s Monday, Nov. 30, and biotech is a bright spot in a local economy upended by the pandemic. Here’s what you need to know to start your day.

Grim pandemic holiday weekend; S.F. joins purple tier

California reported a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations over the Thanksgiving weekend, a somber milestone that shows the virus is more widespread than ever.

State officials reported 7,415 virus hospitalizations Saturday, the latest data available, smashing California’s previous record of 7,170 in July. Hospitalizations in the state have more than doubled in two weeks. Bay Area hospitalizations stood at 759 Saturday — not far from the late July record of 815.

Also Saturday, San Francisco and San Mateo counties joined the state’s purple reopening tier. All Bay Area counties except Marin are now in that most restrictive tier, which means nearly all indoor businesses must cease operations and residents are subject to a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew starting tonight. Santa Clara County, already in the purple tier, imposed new restrictions starting Sunday that go further than the state’s rules.

Follow The Chronicle’s Coronavirus live updates for the latest news.

• Indoor dining banned at all Bay Area restaurants just as weather turns colder.

Bay Area health care workers brace for grim winter: “We are exhausted.”

Surge strains coronavirus testing sites in Bay Area.

• Coronavirus treatments and vaccines: The latest developments.

Biotech booming amid pandemic

 Bay Briefing: California COVID 19 hospitalizations hit new high

In a year of upheaval, the Bay Area’s biotech industry remains a growth engine for the economy and real estate market. And strong business is translating to more planned investment. Genentech, which is working on 10 potential COVID-19 treatments, won local approval last week for a 15-year expansion plan to nearly double the size of its headquarters campus in South San Francisco.

It’s a reminder that the biotech industry remains heavily dependent on in-person facilities, a positive sign for landlords and small businesses that cater to large employers’ workforces.

Read more from Roland Li.

• Take vacation time during a pandemic? Workers say, “Why bother?”

• The coronavirus will have cut California’s tourism industry nearly in half by end of 2020.

Laid-off Bay Area workers gave Biden a boost

 Bay Briefing: California COVID 19 hospitalizations hit new high

In the week leading up to the 2020 election, Oakland native Tony Evans was among 75 newly laid-off Bay Area food industry workers who traveled to the swing state of Nevada as part of the largest union-led door-to-door canvassing operation in the country.

The labor organization Unite Here sent more than 1,700 of its 300,000 members to the battleground states of Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Florida. President-elect Joe Biden won all except Florida.

Evans said he was inspired to travel to Reno because of his frustrations concerning police reform under President Trump. “It’s not a good life for Black people under this administration. So I was doing what I can for my neighborhood and people I know,” he said.

Read more from Justin Phillips.

Putting fans back in Bay Area stands

 Bay Briefing: California COVID 19 hospitalizations hit new high

With coronavirus cases soaring in the Bay Area, new restrictions to slow the spread, and an edict from Santa Clara County banning pro sports through at least Dec. 21, getting to see the Giants, A’s, Warriors, Sharks, 49ers or Earthquakes in person seems eons away.

Nevertheless, teams have been brainstorming and talking with local and state officials for months. The conversations continue with optimism that once spring arrives, the weather warms and vaccines are distributed, coronavirus cases will drop enough to allow fans in stands — with modifications.

What would that experience look like? As Henry Schulman reports, stadiums in less-restricted states offer some clues.

From columnist Ann Killion: 49ers and NFL continue to make COVID adjustments, but are the efforts worth the cost? Sunday’s game: 49ers’ defense fuels dramatic 23-20 win over Rams.

Stanford, San Jose State athletics jolted by Santa Clara County coronavirus order.

Around the Bay

Dublin slaying: S.F. rapper Lil Yase, 26, has been identified as the man fatally shot near a BART station.

In the courts: S.F. archbishop considers legal challenge to new worship restrictions. Also: Another try for California church that lost Supreme Court decision on indoor services.

“No room for this type of hate”: Man caught on video posting swastika stickers around Fairfax may face criminal charges.

Crime trends: With all of December still to come, S.F. has already topped 2019 homicide numbers.

Fire-season fallout: Wildfires deal another blow to Northern California’s fragile bee populations. From Tom Stienstra: Beloved Candelabra Tree emerges largely unscathed from CZU wildfires.

Vacancies way up, prices way down: S.F. renters gain rare leverage in pandemic.

Stores running short: We shouldn’t be panic buying again in the Bay Area, but some are. Experts explain why.

“We won’t be able to stay above water”: Golden Gate bus drivers losing jobs at troubled transit agency. From Kathleen Pender: Federal tax hit could take many unemployed people by surprise.

New twist on land use battles: Livermore development fight isn’t over suburban sprawl, but rather a big solar farm.

Rivalry over green vehicles: Could hydrogen-electric cars be crucial to meeting California’s climate goals? Also: Fremont police look to expand fleet of electric patrol vehicles.

Parklets making their mark in Bay Area

 Bay Briefing: California COVID 19 hospitalizations hit new high

The parklets that have taken over commercial corridors all over the Bay Area didn’t just get built on their own. In many cases, they were the result of communities coming together — with scores of professionals offering their services for free or with heavy discounts.

Architects, designers, contractors and artists have been quietly volunteering their time during the pandemic for parklets, with one San Francisco landscape architect estimating that the work would have cost around $20,000. They sprang into action not only to help local restaurants, but also in the hopes of sparking ideas about what public space could look like in the future.

Read more from Janelle Bitker.

From urban design critic John King: San Francisco is having a parklet moment. Here are 11 cool ones to check out right now.

• Looking for a heat lamp for outdoor dining in the Bay Area? Good luck.

Bay Briefing is written by Taylor Kate Brown, Anna Buchmann and Kellie Hwang and sent to readers’ email inboxes on weekday mornings. Sign up for the newsletter here, and contact the writers at, and

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