April 21, 2020 - red step. Photo by Gene X Hwang

San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order is “very likely” to be extended, Mayor London Breed said during a Friday press conference.

“What that means is another few weeks or even a month of asking you all to comply and to remain at home and to continue to follow the social distancing orders that we put forth,” she said.

Breed added that she was concerned about states opening now such as Georgia and Florida.  “We don’t want to move that quickly,” she said. “We want to make sure that we have systems in place to protect people.”

She added that there are critical aspects to safely opening the economy again, including widespread testing and making sure that healthcare workers and first responders are protected when responding during the pandemic.

The mayor said that the city has the money to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) but has faced challenges with acquiring more. She cited instances when the city’s orders coming from China were diverted to France; confiscated at customs and diverted to other locations; and in some instances, put back into the open market seeking the highest bidder instead.

“Nothing has been more frustrating,” she said. “It really does blow my mind.”

To date, the city has purchased 15 million pieces of PPE, including medical gowns and N95 masks, for healthcare workers and first responders. It has also received 1 million pieces of PPE from Gov. Gavin Newsom, and more from private donations and through Give2SF.

“In addition to the public health crisis that we are in the midst of, there’s also another crisis that has emerged and that’s the economic crisis,” Breed said.

She said that the likely extension of the public health order also means “opportunity” for the city’s Economy Recovery Task Force “to start to explore ways in which we can make some things available that are currently unavailable to all of us.”

She also announced that the city has added another $1 million to its flexible grant program to assist the small business community and that the Economic Recovery Task Force is scheduled to reconvene today.

Dr. Grant Colfax, the director of the Department of Public Health, provided updates on the most current COVID-19 numbers and on outbreaks happening in the city.

There are currently 1,340 residents who have tested positive with COVID-19. Out of the 1,340 cases, 134 people are those experiencing homelessness or living in Single Room Occupancy housing and 113 people were found living in long-term-care facilities.

Colfax said that all 22 people who have died had underlying health conditions, while 21 of them were over 60 years old.

He confirmed that the four deaths at the outbreak at the Central Gardens Convalescent Hospital were included in the city’s official death count. Colfax said he cannot comment specifically on these deaths, as the state is leading the investigations.

At another outbreak at Casa Quezada, a 52-unit permanent supportive housing site in a single-room-occupancy hotel near Mission and Duboce, 71 residents and staff were tested for COVID-19 and one-third came back positive. This includes 22 residents and two staff members. Colfax said that as of April 19, everyone at Casa Quezada has been moved or were offered alternative options for self-isolation sites.

He also reported that the cases at Laguna Honda have remained the same since April 7 with 19 COVID-19 patients, including 15 staff members and four residents.

Colfax said that the second COVID-19 case at the Division Circle Navigation Center on 13th Street was confirmed three weeks after the first case was reported there. He said that “it is unlikely that the two cases were linked.”

Without being specific, Colfax said that they also found two asymptomatic and unrelated positive cases of COVID-19 in San Francisco jails after expanding healthcare services and testing all new bookings. Both persons were released from jail, he said.

“We know that outbreaks are likely to continue as long as the virus is here in our community,” he said. “The virus looks for opportunities where people are gathered together.”

Across California, 258 skilled nursing facilities have reported at least one COVID-19 positive case, he said. Colfax assured everyone that they are checking in every week on similar facilities throughout San Francisco to mitigate any possible outbreak.

He also said that they continue to relocate the vulnerable population into the hotels that the city has acquired.

As of Friday, 864 people who are over 60 years old or have chronic or underlying health conditions have been moved to the hotels, said Colfax.

Abigail Stewart-Kahn, the director of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, reported that the city has currently opened five shelter-in-place hotels and “multiple isolation and quarantine hotels.”

“This has been incredibly hard and incredibly critical expansion,” she said.

In addition, Stewart-Kahn said that they are reopening MSC South and Moscone Center West shelters as post COVID congregant shelters for those who have recovered from the coronavirus and “no longer need medical attention and have cleared their isolation period.”

She also said that the Division Circle Navigation Center will also be reopened for the people experiencing homelessness who test positive with COVID-19 but do not require hospitalization.

SFPD Chief William Scott cautioned the public about protecting themselves from increased instances of scams during the pandemic. He reported four times more complaints of identity fraud this month than three months prior. Scott said that these scams include people pretending to be part of the CDC and selling COVID-19 test kits. He encouraged residents to call the FTC Consumer Protection at 877-382-4357 to report any scams they might encounter.

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