April 19, 2020 - The Heart of the City Farmers Market.Photo by Gene X Hwang

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With produce: If you touch it, you buy it, says Health Department

Any San Franciscan who is COVID-19 positive and cannot self-isolate is now eligible for a hotel room through the city, Mayor London Breed announced today during a press conference. 

Several hundred hotel rooms that had been reserved for frontline healthcare workers will be repurposed to meet this end, she said. “We had not used as many of those hotel rooms as we anticipated,” Breed said. Indeed, of the nearly 1,000 rooms the city obtained for first-responders, some 80 percent have gone unused — at a cost of scores of thousands of dollars per day

Breed said single-room-occupancy residents, the homeless, and others who live in congregate settings should use the program if they test positive. As of Monday, there were just over 1,000 total rooms available and 324 for people who have tested positive for COVID-19. 

At the press briefing, the mayor, Department of Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax, and San Francisco Police Department Chief Bill Scott spoke of the balancing act that now lies ahead: San Francisco’s curve is flat with 1,954 confirmed cases and 35 deaths — but as the city moves toward reopening, it also becomes more vulnerable to outbreaks. All three officials urged the public not to let its guard down. 

“Even as we continue to move forward with plans to reopen, we must keep in mind that we are still in the midst of a pandemic,” Colfax said. “These are not normal times, and normal times will not return for some time.” 

But the process of moving toward a new normal is nonetheless underway. Certain businesses, such as bookstores, florists, and home good stores, can open for curbside pickup as early as May 18 if hospitalizations do not rise, Colfax said. “This is a key metric.” 

He said his department will also be looking at positive cases and deaths. 

The health director also said his department has issued new business safety guidelines. All businesses that operate or plan to operate must create a “health and safety plan,” ensure social distancing and face coverings at work, provide cleaning materials and equipment, ensure customers are keeping a distance by marking off six-feet areas, and cleaning high-touch surfaces. There will be a prohibition on self-service of food items and people cannot handle produce without purchasing it.

The measures, he said, “are worth it to keep everyone safe and allow for the economy to start to reopen.” 

Parks and citations 

Chief Scott said that with the warm weather came people who were ready to enjoy it. Yet this weekend, denizens of San Francisco’s 35 parks needed to be reminded of the rules. He said his officers needed to give “informal warnings” to people who were not keeping their distance and who were not wearing masks. 

“By and large,” he said, “everyone who was warned came into compliance.” 

Scott said most businesses and individuals have been following the rules. But some have not. 

As of Monday, Scott added, 13 businesses and 10 individuals have been cited for not abiding by the order, while 58 businesses and 47 people have been officially warned — meaning they will receive a citation if they do not follow the rules. 

“We hope we don’t have to,” he said.

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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    1. The more more apt question is — Why do you have so much difficulty grasping the concept of “cause and effect”?

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    2. You’ve got it upside down. There are “few” deaths because the state is shut down (not entirely).

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