It was reported this week that six staff members and one resident at Laguna Honda Hospital tested positive for COVID-19. SF Director of Public Health Dr. Grant Colfax is now concerned about a likely outbreak of the novel coronavirus at the city-owned facility — which houses hundreds of elderly patients.

Computer models are showing the respiratory pathogen is more transmittable than the seasonal flu, making it all the more likely that the city-owned facility is right on the precipitous of an emergent COVID-19 outbreak.

“I must say, and I am sad to say this, [the San Francisco Department of Public Health does] expect an outbreak," Colfax said Friday during a press conference to update the city on the COVID-19 crisis, according to KPIX.

"Our plan for the outbreak includes testing affected staff and residents, which is already underway," he continues. "We have begun bringing in additional resources, including staff and expertise, on long-term care, infection control, and infectious disease from our own DPH system, but also reaching out to key partners including UCSF and Sutter Health to strengthen our response.”

As we reported on Wednesday when news broke of the initial five hospital staffers that tested positive for coronavirus, Laguna Honda Hospital quickly quarantined two of its units — South Five and South Four, where the contaminated staff worked — and put the entire facility on lockdown the same day. The Chronicle reported yesterday that the first resident-case of COVID-19 was confirmed at the hospital, alongside another staffer testing positive for the disease, making for a total of seven cases. Laguna Honda Hospital will also start to test 150 employees for the disease.

Guests and visitors inside the facility haven't been allowed since March 6 in part because of how communicable the disease appears to be, especially among the elderly and immunocompromised.

“The pattern of the disease clearly shows that long-term care facilities and their residents are particularly vulnerable to the disease and the spread,” Colfax added. “Simply put, the more testing we do, the more cases we will find.”

Colfax also reported that a staff member who worked in the emergency care unit at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital tested positive for the disease this week; the employee is currently self-quarantining and an investigation into their points of contact is being conducted. Similar actions are underway at Laguna Honda Hospital, so the city's health officials can hone in on the exposed and construct a containment and treatment plan.

“As we continue to plan, predict and respond, sometimes we are ahead, sometimes we are right on time, and sometimes we may be a beat behind," Colfax waxed in closing. "But so far, we have been preparing for just what is happening now. And we will continue to use data, science and facts to be as proactive as possible to protect our community and reduce the harm that the coronavirus causes."

Earlier this month, three residents at Atria Senior Living in Burlingame tested positive for COVID-19, even though they initially showed no outward symptoms, subsequently infecting two other facility residents. Of the five, two have already died, while the other three remain in treatment.

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