AMERICAN CANYON — A panicked young child desperate for her mother ran toward roaring traffic on Highway 29 last month. At the last second, she was snatched back to safety by Steven Jarvi.
“When I saw the (gas station) video, it scared the heck out of me,” Jarvi said in a phone interview on Friday. “I had to go talk to my wife. I’ve never been so emotional with an incident. I even cried a little.”
Jarvi, a 58-year-old father and grandfather who has worked for the City’s Public Works Department for 15 years, said he was driving a city maintenance vehicle when he noticed a young child, perhaps 4 or 5 years old, get out of her car seat and exit the car while her mother was either pumping gas or paying at the American Canyon ARCO.
The child hid behind a pump as her mother, apparently unaware that one of her two children was no longer in their car seat, drove off.
“She walked around the pump a little bit, and it was her, alone, in the station, and then she took off, I speculate, in the direction she saw her mother drive off,” Jarvi said.
Jarvi pulled his truck into the station and sprinted toward the child.
“I ran for her, and she was (just off the curb) and I could hear cars rushing by at 50 or 60 miles per hour right behind. It was really scary. I didn’t think my old knees could move that fast.”
Jarvi said that after scooping the child out of the street, he held and calmed the girl who was crying for her mother, then called 911. When he left about 10 minutes later after police officers had arrived, the mother had still not returned, he said.
“I feel bad for the mother,” he said. “She must be a total wreck. Thank God, the little girl didn’t get hurt.”
That is the same reason American Canyon Police Chief Oscar Ortiz gave for not publicizing the incident on the department’s Facebook page.
“We didn’t want to have this become about vilifying the mom, who is already traumatized,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz said he, too, thanks the Almighty, but also Jarvi for his quick thinking and heroic actions.
“I saw the video and it made an impact,” Ortiz said. “The child was running toward the street and Superman Steve jumped into action. It could have really been a terrible tragedy.”
The officers at the scene were also moved, Ortiz said.
“It shook everybody up,” he said. “Even my officers who were there, said, ‘Wow, that could have been bad.’ They called me and said, ‘Chief, you really have to do something for this guy.’”
Jarvi was recognized as a hero at a recent City Council meeting. The city issued a proclamation and present Jarvi with two commemorative coins.
The proclamation, read into the record by Mayor Leon Garcia, noted that Jarvi’s actions at about 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21, likely prevented a terrible tragedy from occurring.
Ortiz, who is also a father, said he knows children can surprise you with their “amazing escape skills” and doesn’t fault the child’s mother.
But, he isn’t convinced that Jarvi was there simply by chance, either.
“I think there was a reason Steve was in the right place at the right time,” he said. “I think some things like this aren’t accidents.”
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Business at Venus Nail & Spa comes in waves. Some days are horribly, inescapably slow; others, there might be a sudden flood of customers, a mix of appointments and hopeful afternoon walk-ins.
That’s the kind of crest that can make a day feel almost normal for owner Hien Tran — except that sometimes he must then turn a few of those would-be patrons away.
Foregoing business is particularly painful after a year in which Tran’s business has spent more than four months closed to the public.
“We didn’t have any income, and we still paid rent and bills,” Tran said of the months he spent closed, noting he’s had to intermittently furlough staff throughout the year.
California’s nail and hair salons can now open for indoor service at 25% capacity, Tran said, meaning he can’t have more than three customers in his salon at a time. He’s grateful to be able to operate at all, but business is recovering somewhat slowly. Much of his regular clientele are still hesitant to come in, and those that do aren’t coming as often as they once did.
Three months’ worth of closure “can easily kill a business,” according to Sarah Lane, who owns the women’s clothing store Shoppe Twelve in downtown Napa. Small retailers like Shoppe Twelve purchase merchandise ahead of time and rely on subsequent sales to pay back sunk costs and expenses like rent and employee salary, Lane said. When her store closed in March of 2020, sales fell off a cliff, instantly dipping far below the threshold of what it would take just to break even.
Hoping to scrounge together at least some business, Lane launched a revitalization of her existing website and began offering home deliveries around Napa. It was especially frustrating during that initial shutdown to watch as the clothing sections of “big box retailers” like Target and Walmart were allowed to remain open, according to Lane, who said she was having to work “10 times as hard to make a fraction” of normal revenue.
“Our sales were 90% down during the three months we were closed,” she said. “We barely brought in enough to keep the lights on, and we were having to work tremendously hard (to do even that).”
Her business did receive a meager PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan, Lane said though the portion she could put toward operational costs did not cover even a whole month’s rent. Ultimately, she pulled from her savings to ensure the business survived those months closed.
For a number of Napa’s businesses — salons, especially — PPP loans were the difference between reopening and closing for good, according to Craig Smith, executive director of the Downtown Napa Association. Others have survived thanks to grants from the city of Napa or the Chamber of Commerce, he said; more still were granted flexibility on rent by their landlords.
More businesses have actually opened than closed in downtown Napa this year, according to Smith, who said at least a handful — mostly restaurants and retailers — have shuttered their doors over the course of the pandemic. He voiced some concern a wave of additional closures could come this fall.
“I know some landlords have made agreements to forego rent until a later date, but someday it’ll be time to pay the piper,” he explained.
Hopeful, though, are the early signs of recovery Napa is beginning to see: hotels downtown were close to full over Presidents’ Day Weekend and the weekend afterward, meaning more guests to patronize local businesses.
“On President’s Day Weekend, there were up to two hour waits at restaurants if you didn’t have a reservation,” Smith said. “I suspect that added a lot to the shopping (that weekend) because people had time to go out and do things. It’s definitely an ecosystem here.”
Presidents’ Day was the best weekend Napa Running Company has seen since the initial onset of the pandemic, according to owner Leslie Parker. Her shop, which has a website but not an established online store, “limped along” through last year’s springtime shutdowns — in part because Parker continued to come in each day, offering home deliveries and letting customers do curb-side shoe try-ons.
Parker did not apply for a PPP loan — she and her husband “did not want to chance owing more money,” she said, especially as they were struggling to pay rent in the spring of 2020.
“We had some deep, dark conversations, like — ‘at what point do we just stop?’” Parker said.
As lockdowns trailed on, though, former gym-goers turned to running to scratch their exercise itch and business at Napa Running Company picked up — enough so that sales actually up year over year, according to Parker, who said the outdoor running boom had, to her amazement, “saved” her store.
“There’s nowhere to go but up,” she said, asked about her outlook for 2021.
For Shoppe Twelve, the first sign of hope came as businesses were allowed to reopen for the first time in June, Lane said. Because Napa was one of the first counties in the area to reopen, customers from around the Bay flooded her store in droves. Business declined through the last shutdown, Lane said, but she’s optimistic about the coming months now that restaurants have reopened for outdoor dining.
“When restaurants are closed, that’s when we see numbers go down,” Lane said, echoing Smith. “It’s a trickle effect — the downtown businesses, we all need each other. And when we’re all open, that’s when we’re doing our best, but when one of us has to close, it impacts everybody.”
Still, for Venus’s Tran, the year ahead looks to be something of an uphill battle: despite receiving some assistance from the city of Napa, business is still 80% down year over year. And there is no loan that can replace his regular, eager clientele base.
“Customers are still nervous,” Train said. “They’re still worried about COVID, so they’re not coming. They’re just not ready to (get their nails done) again.”
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The COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. topped 500,000 Monday, a staggering number that all but matches the number of Americans killed in World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined.
The U.S. recorded an estimated 405,000 deaths in World War II, 58,000 in the Vietnam War and 36,000 in the Korean War.
President Joe Biden held a sunset moment of silence and a candle-lighting ceremony at the White House and ordered American flags lowered at federal buildings for the next five days.
“We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow,” Biden said. "We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur.”
Monday’s grim milestone, as recorded by Johns Hopkins University, comes as states redouble efforts to get the coronavirus vaccine into arms after last week’s winter weather closed clinics, slowed vaccine deliveries and forced tens of thousands of people to miss their shots.
Despite the rollout of vaccines since mid-December, a closely watched model from the University of Washington projects more than 589,000 dead by June 1.
The U.S. toll is by far the highest reported in the world, accounting for 20 percent of the nearly 2.5 million coronavirus deaths globally, though the true numbers are thought to be significantly higher, in part because many cases were overlooked, especially early in the outbreak.
The first known deaths from the virus in the U.S. were in early February 2020. It took four months to reach the first 100,000 deaths. The toll hit 200,000 in September and 300,000 in December, then took just over a month to go from 300,000 to 400,000 and another month to climb from 400,000 to 500,000.
Average daily deaths and cases have plummeted in the past few weeks. Virus deaths have fallen from more than 4,000 reported on some days in January to an average of fewer than 1,900 per day.
But experts warn that dangerous variants could cause the trend to reverse itself. And some experts say not enough Americans have been inoculated yet for the vaccine to be making much of a difference.
Instead, the drop-off in deaths and cases has been attributed to the passing of the holidays; the cold and bleak days of midwinter, when many people stay home; and better adherence to mask rules and social distancing.
Dr. Ryan Stanton, an emergency room physician in Lexington, Kentucky, who has treated scores of COVID-19 patients, said he never thought the U.S. deaths would be so high.
“I was one of those early ones that thought this may be something that may hit us for a couple months … I definitely thought we would be done with it before we got into the fall. And I definitely didn’t see it heading off into 2021,” Stanton said.
Kristy Sourk, an intensive-care nurse at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center in Hutchinson, Kansas, said she is encouraged by the declining caseload and progress in vaccinating people, but “I know we are so far from over.”
People "are still dying, and families are still isolated from their loved ones who are unable to be with them so that is still pretty heart-wrenching,” she said.
Snow, ice and weather-related power outages closed some vaccination sites and held up shipments across a large swath of the nation, including in the Deep South.
As a result, the seven-day rolling average of administered first doses fell by 20 percent between Feb. 14 and Feb. 21, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The White House said that about a third of the roughly 6 million vaccine doses delayed by bad weather were delivered over the weekend, with the rest expected to be delivered by mid-week, several days earlier than originally expected. White House coronavirus response coordinator Andy Slavitt on Monday attributed the improved timeline to an “all-out, round-the-clock” effort over the weekend that included employees at one vaccine distributor working night shifts to pack vaccines.
In Louisiana, state health officials said some doses from last week’s shipments were delivered over the weekend and were expected to continue arriving through Wednesday. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week’s supply arrived Monday. And in Nashville, Tennessee, health officials were able to vaccinate more than 2,300 senior citizens and teachers over the weekend after days of treacherous weather.
“We’ll be asking the vaccine providers to do a lot,” said Louisiana’s top public health adviser, Dr. Joe Kanter, who expects it to take a week or two to catch up on vaccinations after a storm coated roads with ice and left many areas without running water.
Some hospitals, clinics, community sites and pharmacies that are in Louisiana’s vaccination network will get double allocations of doses this week — just as Gov. John Bel Edwards starts offering shots to teachers, daycare workers, pregnant women and people age 55 to 64 with certain preexisting conditions.
New York City officials expected to catch up on vaccinations after being forced to delay scheduling tens of thousands of appointments last week, the mayor said Monday.
“That means we’ve basically lost a full week in our vaccination efforts,” DeBlasio said.
More than 44 million Americans have received at least one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and about 1.6 million per day received either first or second dose over the past seven days, according to the CDC.
The nation's supply could expand significantly if health regulators approve a single-shot COVID-19 vaccine developed by drugmaker Johnson & Johnson.
The company said it will be able to provide 20 million U.S. doses by the end of March if it gets the green light, and would have capacity to provide 100 million vaccine doses to the U.S. by the end of June.
Over 1,000 people logged onto a virtual town hall last week to hear an update on the Great Redwood Trail, the ambitious, expensive 316-mile foot and bike path which, when complete, will be the longest rail-to-trail project in the nation.
This pathway, to be constructed along the right of way overseen by the North Coast Railroad Authority, will stretch from San Francisco Bay to Humboldt Bay, offering hikers, cyclists and equestrians new access to towering redwood forests and the stunning Eel River Canyon.
“It will ultimately take its place next to such iconic trails the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail,” said Michael Jones, founder of Alta Planning and Design. Jones, of Marin County, was one of the panelists at Thursday’s town hall hosted by state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, who authored the 2018 bill to create the Great Redwood Trail.
While some segments of the multibillion dollar trail are already in use, its final completion is probably decades away. The next step, McGuire explained, will be the formation of a master plan, a 2- to 3-year process that will determine what the trail will look like in different places: paved, bike paths in some sections, gravel and single-track in others.
“We know there are lots of landslides and slumps and ground problems,” said Jones of the section of trail that will go through the remote Eel River Canyon. During the planning phase, he said, soils engineers and other experts will answer questions such as, “Should we fix them? Try to live with them? Build a bridge over them? What’s the impact? What’s the cost?”
It was a clue of how much work remains to be done came when McGuire bid attendees to close their eyes and “imagine” a strip of land from Marin “through the gorgeous vineyards of Sonoma County, showcasing the stunning beauty of Mendocino County, through the redwoods and oak-studded hills of the Eel River Canyon.”
Along with that gauzy pitch, he brought news. That very morning, said McGuire, the NCRA board had voted to file paperwork with the federal government to “railbank” a long stretch of its tracks in Mendocino and Humboldt counties. Railbanking “locks in” the existing railbed, “so you can put a trail on top of it.”
In addition to opening wide swaths of remote wildlands to nature lovers, the trail will also serve as an economic driver for many of the rural communities it adjoins, McGuire said. That message was amplified by panelist Laura Cohen, director of the western region of the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy. She pointed out that the 2.5 million people who visited the 87-mile Ohio Erie Canalway last year spent over $7 million.
The Great Redwood Trail, when finished, would attract many more users, “and much more of an economic impact,” she said.
“Trails attract visitors, and visitors spend money.”
But how much money will this vast project cost? A preliminary study released last year by the California State Transportation Agency said the Great Redwood Trail could cost as much as $1 billion to build, and another $4 billion to address environmental impacts. Those jaw-dropping sums were dismissed by McGuire at the time as “hogwash” and “not based in reality.”
While the final price tag may not be that high, there’s no question it will be steep. Supporters of the project contend that it can be paid for with bond measures, state funding and private philanthropy. Proposition 68, passed by Californians in 2018, earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars for the state’s parks. Some of those funds are set aside for trail projects.
The cost will depend on the type of trail that is built. Single-track pathways will cost as little as $15,000 per mile. Class 1 bike paths through towns and cities are $2 to $4 million per mile.
“We can put wide, paved trails in communities where they work well to attract visitors, said Kevin Wright, government and external affairs manager for Marin County Parks. “But as we get into these more wild experiences, single-track trails are not only more cost-effective, they also in many cases match the environment they’re put into.”
In Sonoma and Marin counties, SMART is tasked with building the paved portion of the trail network along its planned 70-mile service line from Larkspur to Cloverdale, plus the 2 miles north that it will oversee to the county line. The rail agency and its partners have built path segments totaling about 24 miles, with another 10 miles of segments already funded or under construction.
Jones’ slideshow included images of rusting old boxcars and other heavy equipment left behind in the remote Eel River Canyon. The removal of that junk “could be extremely expensive,” said Jones. “But we don’t know yet.”
All the panelists emphasized that, despite all the work ahead, the hardest is already complete.
“A lot of the heavy lifting was done just creating the rail right of way in the first place,” said Cohen.
The Great Redwood Trail, she added, “is going to be an incredible draw to people from all over. It’s pretty exciting.”
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