Shelter-in-place may be effective for many San Franciscans, but the curve is hardly being flattened at numerous single-room-occupancy hotels where more flare-ups are being reported.
San Francisco has generally been given high marks for staying-at-home and social distancing, but we continue to hear of troubling outbreaks at senior care facilities, SROs, and homeless shelters. While this may have been inevitable to some degree, the gap between the first case being reported and everyone at the facility being tested will likely lead to recriminations during and after our efforts to get this thing under control. Mission Local reports today on such a 24-person outbreak (22 residents and two staff) at Casa Quezada, a 52-unit SRO near Mission and Duboce Streets, and frustratingly, a six-day gap between the reporting of the first case and the testing of all residents and staff.
Just before 2:30 Friday afternoon, Department of Public Health director Dr. Grant Colfax took some heat over the matter at the mayor’s live daily coronavirus update. “Let me be really clear with the facts about Casa Quezada,” Colfax pushed back. “On April 13, the Health Department confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in a resident of Casa Quezada. On April 15, after a case investigation, a second resident tested positive. Based on that and further investigations, we performed testing on-site of all residents on April 19. We moved all residents and have closed the facility for cleaning.”
“We were as timely and responsive as our testing systems allowed,” Dr. Colfax insisted. He also noted that 21 of these positive-testing patients had underlying health conditions.
But that does not dispute the six-day gap in full testing for the whole facility, which seems like the obvious first move, and the nonprofit that runs the place is outraged.
“Our staff have had to arduously advocate for testing, contact screening and access to isolation and quarantine rooms for our residents,” executive director of Dolores Street Community Services Laura Valdez told Mission Local. “We regret that the testing did not happen sooner. In order to flatten the curve, we need to make sure DPH is properly resourced to prevent and respond to outbreaks.”
Mission Local adds that confirmed infections have hit other SROs like the Grand Southern (four cases), and 16 Virginia (one case). These aren't the only SROs with positive cases, and this weekend's SF Examiner had a lengthy piece on how red tape is tying up reporting and testing at these incredibly high-risk facilities. We’re seeing similar situations as a Navigation Center was shut down this week, and at senior centers, where a 36-case outbreak in Oakland joins other highly afflicted facilities like 37 testing positive at Central Gardens in Japantown, and hundreds of other cases at senior facilities across the Bay Area. So while this is not just a San Francisco thing, we may have a larger than realized gap between public perception of The City’s stay-at-home success and the quiet COVID-19 risks for vulnerable populations in cramped quarters.
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