San Francisco is on track to be placed under a three-week “stay-at-home” order in mid-to-late December, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday — a dramatic measure he said he was forced to take as most California regions run low on intensive care beds during the winter coronavirus surge.
“The bottom line is, if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom said. “If we don’t act now, we’ll continue to see the death rate climb and more lives lost.”
The lockdown order will apply to five California regions whose ICUs are projected to drop below 15-percent capacity in the coming days and weeks. Four of those regions — Greater Sacramento, Northern California, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California — are projected to fall below 15 percent in “the next day or two” and will go under the order almost immediately, the governor said.
The Bay Area region, which includes San Francisco, is projected to fall below 15 percent ICU capacity this month. “The Bay Area may have a few extra days,” Newsom said. “Our current projections suggest mid, maybe late December, but all within just the next few weeks.”
If and when the order is triggered in San Francisco, the city will have 24 hours to adopt it.
The order would mean that bars, personal care services, movie theaters, indoor gyms, playgrounds, and hair salons/barber shops will temporarily close. Restaurants will be limited to just take-out and delivery — meaning no outdoor dining — and retail and grocery stores will be limited to 20 percent capacity. “Non-essential” statewide travel will be restricted.
Schools that have received waivers will remain open. Outdoor religious services will also be allowed to continue.
Residents will be required to stay home “as much as possible,” encouraged only to leave their homes for exercise, groceries, medical visits, and other essential business.
The orders would only lift if the region’s ICU capacity is projected at above or equal 15 percent four weeks out.
Following Newsom’s announcement, Mayor London Breed made it clear in a tweet that San Francisco is not yet subject to the stay-at-home order, “but we’re looking closely at local data and talking to our neighboring counties about next steps.”
“We’ll share new information with you as soon as we have it,” she said.
We are right now in the most dangerous time of this pandemic for our state and our region. Cases and hospitalizations are surging.— London Breed (@LondonBreed) December 3, 2020
Unless we get things under control immediately, we could quickly run out of hospital beds in the Bay Area.
The Bay Area region includes Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma and San Francisco counties. It’s unclear exactly how close the region is to dropping below the 15-percent ICU capacity.
According to Mission Local’s coronavirus tracker, there are 2,121 Covid-19 patients in the ICUs statewide. Newsom said Covid-19 hospitalizations rose 86 percent in the last two weeks, and ICU admissions rose 67 percent “over a similar period of time.”
In San Francisco, there were 91 Covid-19 patients in city hospitals as of Tuesday, according to Dr. Grant Colfax, the San Francisco Department of Public Health director. He said during a Tuesday news conference that, during a recent 10-day period in late November, the numbers had more than doubled. On Nov. 18, 40 covid patients occupied city hospital beds.
“We are now feeling the pressure of the rapidly accelerating cases at hospitals across San Francisco,” Colfax said.
Around the Mission, small business owners reacted to impending lockdown with a mixture of frustration and resignation.
Jon Mayo, the co-founder of Trainability Studio, a workout studio on Valencia Street near 26th Street, had just seen Newsom’s announcement on TV. If and when the order applies to San Francisco, it would mean his studio would have to close, as it is considered “indoor recreation.”
“It’s disappointing that, as a public, we can’t keep our shit together,” Mayo said. “As small businesses, we are trying to do all the right things — but now, all of a sudden, we can’t pay our rent because we can’t take in any income.”
Harold Jurado, the owner of Ramenwell on 18th Street near Mission, said the new order could be hard on his business. “It’s been a tough nine months,” he said. “We are in survival mode, doing what we can to help our staff put food on the table.”
Jurado said he understands that Newsom’s decision is for public safety, but he said that “if this persists, we will have to take a step back and rethink our restaurant — maybe restructure it to make delivery more of a focus.”
Over at La Quinta, a Mexican restaurant on Mission Street between 20th and 21st Street, Jose Armando was preparing food in the kitchen as the news was announced. “Now we’re just returning to how it was before,” Armando said in Spanish, referring to the March shelter-in-place order that shut down businesses and limited restaurant operations. “It is very bad; we are just surviving.”
Nevertheless, he remained optimistic, hoping “to God for the best.”
A list of what would be temporarily closed during a state-mandated stay-at-home order:
· Indoor and Outdoor Playgrounds
· Indoor Recreational Facilities
· Hair Salons and Barbershops
· Personal Care Services
· Museums, Zoos, and Aquariums
· Movie Theaters
· Bars, Breweries and Distilleries
· Family Entertainment Centers
· Cardrooms and Satellite Wagering
· Limited Services
· Live Audience Sports
· Amusement Parks