City officials gave a stark warning to state and federal officials that San Francisco’s health care system could be overburdened if coronavirus cases continue to rise like they are now in places like in New York.
If cases reach to the point of New York, The City will need at least an additional 5,000 hospital beds 1,500 ventilators, public health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said:
“I am sorry to say the worst has yet to come.”
Colfax said he expects to see a surge of individuals with the coronavirus who need to be hospitalized based off data from other countries, health care professionals and monitoring the situation in New York.
Mayor London Breed Wednesday at a virtual press conference at The City’s Emergency Operations Center said while San Francisco has many hospitals and with some of the best health care providers, The City is still in a situation where resources, such as hospital beds and equipment need to be ramped up significantly to prepare for a surge in coronavirus cases:
“It requires the need for our state and our federal partners to step up more than they ever have before and to move faster.”
Currently, The City has 1,300 surgical beds and 200 intensive care beds, Breed said.
The mayor has written letters to Gov. Gavin Newsom and Vice President Mike Pence stressing the need for more resources, such as personal protective equipment (N-95 masks, gloves, gowns and face shields), testing kits and health care staffing.
The mayor also announced that Saint Francis Memorial will open up a floor of 48 beds for just Covid-19 patients. Saint Francis Memorial, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco will equip and staff the floor.
Of the 48 beds, 40 will be for surgical patients and eight critical care beds. Dr. David Klein, CEO and President of Saint Francis Memorial, said he expects open initially 10 beds by the first week of April.
San Francisco officials Tuesday confirmed its first coronavirus-related death of a man in his 40s with underlying health conditions. As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, officials had confirmed 178 coronavirus cases.
Parks close to reduce public exposure
New closures of East Bay Regional Park District areas were announced Wednesday to limit overcrowding and help keep the public and park staff safe during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
All picnic areas, restrooms, water fountains, swimming facilities/areas, playgrounds, campgrounds, group campsites, backcountry campsites, sports fields, kiosks and facilities that can be reserved are closed and group gatherings banned.
District officials said this past weekend more people were out in parks than during a busy holiday.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement:
“We can’t bend the curve if everyone is out.”
The governor on Monday temporarily banned vehicular traffic at state parks in five counties including Marin, San Mateo and Sonoma counties in the Bay Area.
District officials said a concern is unsafe overcrowding. Some closures were already in effect and Wednesday park district officials added to those closures, which begin Friday.
For a list of all closures, please consult www.ebparks.org. More closures are possible, though state and county health departments prefer that parks are open.
Park district general manager Robert Doyle said in a statement:
“We want to help everyone during this crisis by keeping parks open, but safety of the public and our employees is our top priority. … If parks are too crowded, please help us keep people safe by going home.”
UC Berkeley town hall examines transmission rates
A biostatistics professor at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health said on Wednesday that it will take at least a few weeks before the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in the U.S. is made clear.
Speaking at a virtual town hall with other UC-Berkeley health experts, professor Nicholas Jewell said:
“The first indication if the rate is slowing down in California and the U.S. will come in a few weeks.”
Jewell said lowering the rate at which Covid-19 is reproduced from one person to others is a key factor in trying to control the spread of the disease:
“A reproduction rate of less than 1 percent is necessary to prevent a significant percentage of the population from being infected.”
But he said if the reproduction rate is 2 percent or more at least 50 percent of the population will contract the virus.
Jewell said there’s “an ironic tradeoff” if current shelter-in-place rules and social-distancing mandates are followed by everyone and result in slowing the spread of Covid-19.
He said the good part of such a “flattening the curve” scenario is that it will prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed by a sudden influx of coronavirus patients.
But Jewell said the bad part of limiting the number of people who get the virus at this point is that there could be a spike in new cases in a few months because most people wouldn’t have developed an immunity to Covid-19.
“We could be vulnerable to a rebound because not many people would be infected.”
It’s believed by some health experts that people who contract the coronavirus will develop an immunity to it.
Jewell said that even in a best-case scenario in which the spread of Covid-19 is limited, the virus won’t be eradicated and will remain endemic until a vaccine for it is developed, a process that is expected to take at least 12 to 18 months.
Party promoter tests positive, accused of illegal event
A San Francisco party promoter accused by City Attorney Dennis Herrera of organizing an illegal event amid The City’s shelter-in-place order said Wednesday he canceled the event days ago and called the situation a misunderstanding.
Herrera initially accused event promoter Set San Francisco of selling nonrefundable tickets for a party called “Lehar (Afterlife, Multinotes, Diynamic) at 251 Cocktail Club at 251 Rhode Island St. for this Friday, with tickets ranging from $5 to $780.
Herrera claimed the organizers were “attempting to profit off the coronavirus,” and ordered the promoter to remove the party’s listing on Eventbrite.com and notify everyone who bought tickets that the event has been canceled and refund them their money.
However, according to Christian Pineiro, owner of Set San Francisco, he moved to cancel the event more than a week ago. Since then, however, he’s been bedridden after testing positive for Covid-19.
“No one is trying to do any type of events right now. … This has been blown out of proportion.”
According to Pineiro, he had previously agreed to cancel the event, along with the owners of 251 Cocktail Club. Following the decision to cancel, the owners then moved to delete a Facebook event page made for the party.
Pineiro said after that, a glitch on Eventbrite.com wouldn’t allow him to access the party’s event page and cancel it. Although he remains ill, he said he’s already contacted Eventbrite to remove the listing and to refund eventgoers’ money.
While the Eventbrite listing was available as of Wednesday morning, the page has since been deleted.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Eventbrite said:
“We have removed this event from our platform. The health and safety of our community is our focus and we advise everyone to follow all government-issued practices.”
Rick Haynes, owner of 251 Cocktail Club, said he moved to close his space since the shelter-in-place order took effect last week.
Additionally, a statement on the venue’s website said:
“Like most other bars in California, we are currently closed and waiting out the Covid-19 pandemic. We hope to re-open as soon as we are given the okay by state and local authorities.”
Haynes seemed dumbfounded as to why Herrera admonished his club and Set San Francisco Wednesday, when Haynes said he spent a considerable amount of time on Tuesday speaking with a San Francisco police officer, assuring them that event was not taking place.
“This is not good for our business. … They’re making us look really bad.”
Sonoma County girds for extended online learning
The Sonoma County Office of Education Wednesday recommended the county’s school districts continue planning for distance learning through at least May 1 because of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
The Office of Education’s recommendation came after consultations with the county school superintendents in Napa, Marin and Solano counties, and Sonoma County interim health officer Dr. Sundari Mase. Napa, Marin and Solano counties also will advise their school districts to plan for distance learning until at least May 1, according to the Sonoma County Office Of Education.
Sonoma County school districts initially planned to suspend in-person classes until April 7, the date when the Sonoma County’s shelter in place order expired.
After Gov. Gavin Newsom called for people statewide to remain home and limit gatherings to no more than 10 people, schools began preparing to continue distance learning through May 1. If Newsom’s order is lifted before the end of April, the Sonoma County Office of Education said school districts could then consider resuming classes earlier.
Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools Steven Herrington said:
“The goal is to get students back in the classroom as soon as it is safe to do so. … While difficult for working parents, school closings are necessary at this time to protect the health of students, staff and family members with compromised immune systems.”
Over the past two weeks, the SCOE and county school districts have provided remote learning, “grab and grow” meal distribution, pop-up child care for emergency/medical providers during the school day and telecommuting, SCOE officials said.
More law enforcement officers test positive
A fifth Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputy has tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus, sheriff’s officials said Wednesday.
All five work on the same team. Three others on the team are self-isolating at home even though they have no symptoms of the virus. The deputy who tested positive most recently is quarantined at home.
Sheriff’s officials are working to identify other staff members who may have been exposed to the virus. So far there is no evidence, sheriff’s officials said, that the deputies have exposed inmates to the virus.
Oakland airport gate agent diagnosed with Covid-19
A person who works at Oakland International Airport tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus, airport officials said Wednesday.
The person is a gate agent who last worked Sunday in Terminal 2 at gates 23, 25, 26 and 27 that day. The individual is not an employee of the airport or the Port of Oakland, which owns and operates the airport.
Port officials said the worker used the men’s restroom in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2 and since then the restroom has been disinfected and cleaned.
Gates 23, 25, 26 and 27 and the restroom were closed Tuesday night for disinfecting and cleaning. Podiums and counters at those gates were cleaned and disinfected as were places commonly touched including jetways, doors, chairs and armrests.
Airport workers and others who work at the airport were told of the infection.
Elsewhere in the Bay Area, Transportation Security Administration employees at Mineta San Jose International Airport have also tested positive for the virus.
Sixth Napa County resident tests positive
A sixth person from Napa County tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus, county officials said Wednesday.
The announcement was made Wednesday night about the resident who is from American Canyon. The person is now hospitalized in another county.
Public health officials in Napa County are conducting an investigation and identifying people who came in close contact with the latest resident to get the virus. Napa County has the fewest number of cases of the virus of any county in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Keith Burbank, Jeff Shuttleworth, Daniel Montes, and James Lanaras of Bay City News contributed to this report.