Predictably, especially given rising hospitalization numbers around the Bay, San Francisco has announced an extension of the stay-at-home order that took effect nearly one month ago, which was initially set to be lifted on January 4.
Mayor London Breed and Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax announced on Thursday that both the stay-at-home order — which forced the closure of gyms and a stoppage in outdoor dining and included a 10 p.m. curfew — and an order requiring 10-day quarantines for all travelers arriving in San Francisco from outside the Bay Area, are being extended for an indeterminate amount of time. The announcement cites that the current order has likely prevented around 400 additional COVID-related deaths.
"We have been proactive in putting the stay at home order and travel quarantine in place to protect San Franciscans and in the hopes that by acting quickly, we could flatten the curve and re-open faster," said Breed in a statement. "This seems to be working but we need more time to determine that we are moving in the right direction and that the December holidays don’t set us back. There are glimmers of hope and now is not the time to let up."
Public health officials across the country are bracing for a surge-upon-a-surge following the Christmas and New Year's holidays, and it remains to be seen what states will be hardest hit. At present, California is in worse shape than most with a dwindling number of ICU beds, but the Bay Area remains a little better off than Southern California.
Earlier this week, Dr. Colfax offered a ray of hope for San Francisco in that it appeared case numbers in the city were beginning to plateau, but he cautioned that the worst was likely still to come in terms of hospitalizations and deaths related to the coronavirus.
"The steps we have taken together have served us well, but the fact remains that San Francisco is in the midst of its worst surge yet," says Colfax. "We must continue to take the preventative measures that we know slow the spread of the virus and save lives. Please continue to avoid gatherings, wear facial coverings, and keep your distance. We’ve crushed the curve before and can do it again."
San Francisco restaurants are, obviously, hoping to get back to outdoor dining sooner rather than later, but an extension beyond January 4 was widely expected. (Also, we're getting set for about two weeks of steady rain, so not that much outdoor dining likely would have been going on even if it had been allowed.)
"Although this is not the news we had hoped to hear, we appreciate the city's effort to provide businesses with more advance notice for planning purposes," said the Golden Gate Restaurant Association in a statement. "While we appreciate the federal COVID relief bill, we continue to stress that we need more financial relief from the city of San Francisco, the state of California and the federal government."
The state's "limited" stay-at-home order is set to be lifted once available ICU capacity in the greater Bay Area region rises back to 15% or more.
As of Wednesday, December 30, ICU bed availability stood at 7.5% across the region. The City said in its announcement that it is watching case counts and hospitalization data, and it would "be at least two weeks before the City fully understands the impact of travel and gatherings" over the holidays.
San Francisco had 224 COVID patients in hospitals as of Tuesday, up from 221 the previous day, marking yet another high for hospitalizations since the pandemic began.
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