San Francisco Declares State of Emergency Because of Coronavirus

(TNS) — San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared a state of emergency in the city Tuesday amid heightened concerns of the new coronavirus' spread around the globe.

But why has the city made this declaration when there aren't any confirmed cases among city residents?

In the interview below, Mary Ellen Carroll, executive director of S.F.'s Department of Emergency Management, answers that question. She also addresses many other questions and concerns residents may have as the city prepares for a potential outbreak of the pneumonia-like virus.

PG&E Fires Contractor After Probe Involving California Wildfires

Pacific Gas & Electric has fired a contractor hired to haul debris from the site of a deadly 2018 Northern California wildfire, saying the company was over-billing the utility and paying “large sums of money and gifts” to two utility supervisors.

PG&E Chief Executive Bill Johnson said in a memo to employees that the two supervisors “are no longer with the company,” The Sacramento Bee reported.

California City Shows How to Retreat from Rising Sea Level

(TNS) — Ten miles north of Monterey and a world away from Santa Cruz, Bruce Delgado gazed up a towering sand dune. Careful not to step on the beach buckwheat that protects rare butterflies or the sea lettuce that survives only in stable habitats, he wound his way toward the ocean.

At the top, slightly out of breath, he marveled at the sandy beach that stretched for miles along the bay. Big surf broke into rhythmic cusps by the shore. A red-tailed hawk soared over his town of Marina, where despite its name, no dock or pier exists to interrupt this view.

Could Companies Be Forced to Insure Homes in Wildfire Zones?

(TNS) — Insurance companies fleeing high-risk fire zones would have to stay put and even offer discounts if homeowners in those areas prepare for wildfires on a community-wide scale, under a new bill proposed in Sacramento on Tuesday.

The bill, AB 2367, has the backing of state Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. It would mandate that starting in 2021, insurers would have to renew policies and continue to write new ones in communities that meet state standards for firescaping, or home hardening, that would be established before the law takes effect.

California Utilities’ Wildfire Prevention Plans Call for More Blackouts

California utilities plan to continue shutting off power to customers during dry and windy conditions to prevent sparking deadly wildfires, but they aim to make outages more targeted to avoid widespread blackouts, according to plans filed with the state.

Plans by the state’s three largest investor-owned utilities said wildfire mitigation plans would build on efforts made last year to reduce the risk their equipment would cause deadly infernos.

Bay Area, Calif., Clinics Seek Masks for Coronavirus in Light of Shortage

(TNS) - In late January, as the coronavirus continued spreading across the globe, the Foothill Community Health Center in San Jose, Calif., had a problem.

The center, a nonprofit network of medical and dental clinics, was running low on N95 masks — the respirator mask that officials recommend health care workers wear when coming in contact with patients who may have coronavirus.

“There’s a huge shortage,” said Umer Murtaza, the safety manager and facilities coordinator for Foothill’s clinics. Staff normally wear surgical masks during flu season, but with the coronavirus starting to spread beyond China, Foothill wanted to upgrade to N95s. It had some, but not enough.

Minor Earthquake Confirmed in California High Desert

A minor earthquake struck the Southern California high desert on Saturday and was was felt across the region, the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed.

The USGS reports the 3.9-magnitude earthquake hit an area about 13 miles northeast of Barstow at 11:34 a.m. Saturday.

Authorities said there were no immediate reports of damages or injuries. People reported to the USGS that they felt light shaking as far away as Los Angeles and Indio.

A Tale of Two Californias: Managing Wildfire Risk in the Year 2030

For most of the 20th century, the insurance industry considered wildfires to be little more than a benign nuisance. They occurred frequently but rarely resulted in more than a handful of claims, and underwriters priced for them in the same way as other attritional sources of loss like theft, breakage and sewer back-up.

Then in 1991, everything changed.

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