Central Garden Convalescent Hospital, site of the city's deadliest COVID-19 outbreak.

A California Department of Public Health report released over the weekend listed the COVID-19 numbers in the state’s hard-hit skilled nursing facilities. And the hardest-hit in San Francisco — by far — is Central Gardens Convalescent Hospital near San Francisco’s Japantown in the Fiĺlmore area.

Per the report, 26 staffers and 36 residents of the Ellis Street facility tested positive; the 26 cases among employees put Central Gardens at among the most Coronavirus-ravaged staff in the entire state.

Calls to the facility this morning were answered by a staffer who said “We’re doing okay,” before taking a message.

Messages for the Department of Public Health have also not been returned yet.

The staff and resident count at the facility are not known at this time. The events leading up to the testing at the site are also not known, nor are the conditions and whereabouts of the staff and residents of Central Gardens.

The facility’s Medicare page lists 92 certified beds and an average of just under 85 daily residents.

It’s unclear what the procedures were at the afflicted facility. But a caregiver  who works at another nursing home on Post Street told Mission Local that she was worried about the procedures at her place of business. “I’m concerned. They have visitors on Saturday and Sunday so I am nervous about what I can catch from someone else.”

Of note, a senior facility allowing visitors is in violation of county Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón’s March 10 order.

This is a breaking story and will be updated as possible.

Update: 4:30 p.m.: During the daily COVID-19 press conference, Health Department director Dr. Grant Colfax updated the numbers at Central Gardens: 39 residents and 28 staff. He otherwise deferred to the lead agency, the state Department of Public Health. Colfax added that the SFDPH has provided some technical assistance, including testing.

Follow Us

Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

Join the Conversation


  1. Your article says nothing about whether the staff or patients who tested positive have symptoms or not, or whether they just tested positive to having HAD the virus but are already recovered. Is that info not available to, or did you simply choose to leave it out?

    1. Sir or madam —

      This is a breaking news story. While I understand the concern and desire to know things, please try to understand the realities of attempting to pry information away from medical facilities, on deadline, during the midst of a pandemic.

      We’re working on it.



  2. California is requiring skilled nursing facilities to accept COVID-19 patients. Is that what happened here? I don’t understand why the department of health is moving COVID-19 patients to facilities that care for the most vulnerable. It’s sick.

  3. For the reporter:

    As a part of history, if you don’t know it already, back in the days before antibiotics and modern medicine… there was a specific type of bacterial pneumonia that commonly afflicted elderly people. Because life was so much harder 100 years ago, that pneumonia had the nickname of “old man’s friend.” In other words, it killed those who were alive but suffering from various ailments like broken hips, or other issues that made life miserable.

    In today’s world, its harsh to look at care facilities where the elderly are dying from this virus. But at the same time, some of those people are probably glad to be done with their suffering. Dementia patients might be one such group.

    I know several people who already have “advanced care directives” in their medical file to avoid being kept alive in the event of illness such as this Chinese Virus where ventilators are being used to breathe for people. I’m one of them. My directive specifically lists NO artificial breathing. Pain control only.

    Just a note of observation on my part.

    1. I think writing off every old person in a senior facility as being glad to welcome death’s embrace is the height of presumptuousness.

      Please think harder before writing things like this.


    2. This virus is not Chinese, doesn’t look Asian, can’t speak eat, drink or anything else we humans do.

  4. This, literally, hits close to home as this facility is caddycorner to where I live. I walk my dog near the Ellis facility daily, and haven’t seen any signs of concern (no ambulances, firetrucks, warning signs) to bring attention to the infected patients within. On it’s own, that’s a good sign — no one wants to be pointed to as a source of disease; however, as a broader health concern, I am surprised that there isn’t more of a warning for passer bys.

    I appreciate the reporting and only became aware of the situation next door because a neighbor shared this article with me. Now I am being a bit more cautious when I walk outdoors (more diligent about wearing a mask, but also not wandering unnecessarily). Early this morning, however, I noticed a large crowd outside a building on Webster and Ellis and am wondering if the virus has inadvertently spread beyond the Ellis facility. (Do I have to further restrict where I walk my dog?) I can’t seem to find any other information online and makes me worry that we are not getting all relevant information. What websites do you recommend for local information?

  5. Mr. Eskanazi,

    Several times you have stated that the facility “is near Japantown”, but in reality it is right in the heart of the Western Addition,
    as any professional journalist should have known and mentioned. As an Asian American, I am appalled and alarmed at the media’s continuing efforts to associate the virus with Chinese people and fostering further the atmosphere of hatred and discrimination in these troubled times.

    1. Sir or madam — 

      There was no effort in this article to associate the virus with Chinese people because Japanese people are not Chinese people.

      There was no effort to associate the virus with *any* people; the facility was described as “near Japantown” because it is near Japantown. It is so described by its own management in job-postings and other promotional materials. It was so described by city medical and other personnel I spoke with for this story.

      The facility is perhaps 120 yards from the Peace Plaza. The description we have chosen to apply is meant to give people an idea of where the building is — nothing more.

      While we’re cognizant of the hatred being fomented by overt racists against the Chinese, I wish you’d pause a bit before accusing “the media” writ large of being gutter bigots — which is also offensive.



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *