Patients tested in Alameda County for coronavirus

A number of patients have been recently tested in Alameda County for signs of possible exposure to a deadly virus that has spread quickly from China to other parts of the world.

Alameda County health department spokeswoman Neetu Balram said Thursday that there are no confirmed cases yet among the patients, who presented to care providers with signs such as high fever or a cough.

Balram, who would only describe the number as “below 10,” said providers would have talked to patients to see if they had recently traveled to Wuhan, Hebei Province, or had close contact with someone who had the virus, before possibly collecting specimens to send to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta for follow-up testing.

Balram was not able to say Thursday night where in the county the patients resided or their ages.

Preliminary tests appear to have ruled out a few patients as suffering from the flu, while others were expected to receive additional testing, Balram said.

The county health department issued an alert about the virus Thursday, reminding residents to practice good hygiene and call ahead to a doctor’s office or emergency room if they or someone they know has traveled to Wuhan or feels sick. Travelers from Wuhan are being screened at San Francisco and Los Angeles international airports, as well as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

The outbreak in China has caused at least 25 deaths and infected more than 800 people, causing widespread lockdowns in three major cities and curtailing public events in many other areas. The Centers for Disease Control has confirmed one U.S. case of the disease, a Washington state man who contracted the disease after visiting Wuhan.

No one was being tested for the virus in …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Health


After 33 years, East Bay cake artist Katrina Rozelle is closing her bakery

It’s a sweet chapter with a bittersweet end.

Pastry artist Katrina Rozelle Topp is retiring and closing her East Bay baking operation — after 33 years of creating lavish cakes for star-studded events as well as thousands of desserts for everyday celebrations.

Customers have until Feb. 1 to visit and order from her Katrina Rozelle Pastries & Desserts shop in Alamo. Her original location, in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood, has already shut its doors.

“Though a bittersweet decision, it’s time to step back and slow down,” she and her husband, Ken, announced in a note on the website.

Topp’s over-the-top creations have included a replica of San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, complete with arches and 450 handmade roses, to feed 650 guests (that one took four hours to set up, using stepladders) and a 7-foot-tall masked cake for the San Francisco Opera.

But thousands in the Bay Area will remember her for the cakes baked for their epic weddings, milestone birthdays, golden anniversaries and holiday celebrations. Photos on the website depict fondant-draped cakes in the shape of handbags, a Noah’s ark cake for a bar mitzvah, a duck pond creation for the birthday of a nature enthusiast, a Texas-themed cake for someone moving to the Lone Star State — and a stunning “Will You Marry Me?” cake in the form of a gift box that opens to reveal a sweet engagement ring.

Even what she called her “Everyday Cakes” were special, with their layers of hazelnut-chocolate ganache and ribbons of mango mousse.

In an interview, she said, “I simply can’t adequately express how touching the outpouring of appreciation for our efforts has been. I can only say that, as with any small brick-and-mortar business, we would never have succeeded without the strong support of our local community.”

To that end, Topp has a post-retirement gift planned for those …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


Landscaping the perfect garden: Dream first, budget second

Do I need to sell one kidney or two? That was the main question I had as we waited for our landscape designer to send over his cost estimate for the plan he’d presented the week before.

My husband, DC, and I loved the vision Tony Evans created to transform our ho-hum backyard into a place we would actually look forward to coming home to — as opposed to one we hid behind pulled drapes.

However, before budget realities could dash our dreams – The fountain! The fire feature! The spa! — we indulged in the fantasy of seeing our backyard through the magic spectacles of a professionally rendered design in which almost anything is possible. And we played how much do you think? We bandied about numbers as high as a year of college tuition – for the plan without the pool and spa, which was an option. Adding the pool, we figured, would double the cost. (P.S. We weren’t wrong.)

DC had the cardiac paddles ready as I opened the email containing the estimate — and Evans got on the phone to talk me through the initial shock.

“It’s all phase-able,” Evans said, as I began to digest the numbers. “We can start small, and work a bit at a time.”

To prevent hyperventilation, he wisely submitted the cost estimate in three ways: good, better, best. Good, for example, eliminated the pool and used mulch instead of the more expensive beach rock, among other trade-offs.

Although the price estimates were not too far from our calculated guesses, none included must-have features like the wall fountain, the fire bowls, the patio furniture or the lighting. To get that yard, we were going to have to get creative or win the lotto. But this much we knew: Now that we’ve seen what’s possible, we’re not turning …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


First Annual Bay Area Cider Week: Everything you need to know

It’s here, cider fans: The first annual Bay Area Cider Week, a full seven days devoted to the craft of making, drinking and pairing food with cider. There will also be a cider luau and cider olympics. More on those in a bit.

Sponsored by the American Cider Association, the event — which runs from Jan. 26 to Feb. 2 — will take over taprooms, bars and restaurants from San Jose to Oakland and San Francisco.

It’s about time. California is home to more than 100 cidermakers, making it the second largest cider-loving state in the country after New York. And between Apple Hill’s cider route and Sonoma County’s Gravenstein Days, we’ve got the history and locally-grown apples to boot.

You’ll find more than 50 cider-inspired events throughout the Bay Area, including a cider olympics with apple-bobbing at Crooked City Cider Tap House in Oakland, cider and paella dinner at Locanda Osteria in San Francisco, orchard tours, cider making classes and cider-licious activities at Redfield Cider in Oakland, UpCider in San Francisco and The Cider Junction in San Jose.

Events will highlight some of the best craft cider producers in Northern California, from Chico to Santa Cruz and San Jose to Sebastopol, plus legendary cider producers from the East Coast and across the pond. For a full list, details and reservations, visit

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Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


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