The inevitable has come to pass, and get set for more local panic: The San Francisco Department of Public Health has confirmed the first two cases of the coronavirus likely contracted in the city limits, and it says neither patient contracted the virus as the result of travel.
One patient is listed in fair condition and the other in serious condition, as the Chronicle reports, and they are each in isolation and being treated at separate hospitals. The patient in serious condition is said to be a man in his 90s who has underlying health issues; the other patient in fair condition is a woman in her 40s.
Mayor London Breed announced the two positive tests for the virus at an 11 a.m. press conference Thursday at which she was also giving an update about the cruise ship with at least 21 symptomatic people on board that is being held offshore as testing takes place. A second case in Sonoma County linked to this same cruise ship, and a cruise to Mexico that ended on February 21, was also just announced — and this was the same ship on which the Placer County man who died from the virus was traveling.
Update from San Francisco leaders on local response and preparedness efforts regarding novel coronavirus (COVID-19) https://t.co/043mhKDxaQ— London Breed (@LondonBreed) March 5, 2020
SF Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax said the two patients are "unrelated," and he said neither patient had any history of travel or any contact with anyone who had traveled to a country where covid-19. He said "all appropriate precautions" were being taken to protect healthcare workers at the unnamed hospitals.
"Unfortunately, these cases of covid-19 in San Francisco residents do not come as a surprise," Colfax said. "Given the virus has been detected in the Bay Area, California, and increasingly across the country, San Francisco has been preparing for the appearance of covid-19 in the community for many weeks... The people who are sick are getting the best care provided by our outstanding healthcare professionals."
Colfax further cautioned that stigma surrounding this virus should not be tolerated. "This virus does not discriminate," he said. "Stigma and discrimination are unacceptable in this time when we need to come together as a community to protect public health."
As for the fate of the Grand Princess cruise ship, Mary Ellen Carroll from the Department of Emergency Management said at the press conference that the CDC and the state are working together to decide where the ship will be allowed to berth — and it sounds like a quarantine may get set up for the approximately 2,400 passengers and 1,100 crew members. "The CDC and the state are considering a number of locations [for docking the ship] including San Francisco," Carroll said. "However where the ship will dock will be dependent on if the location can enact the proper CDC, state, and local protocols, and has the infrastructure to protect the entire community."