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Laguna Honda Hospital has been hit with Covid-19 after San Francisco health officials this week said six staff members and one patient were infected with the virus.

The City’s Health Officer Tomás Aragón issued a quarantine order on Tuesday preventing residents who live on the campus from leaving in order reduce the number of patients, residents and staff contracting the virus.

Dr. Grant Colfax, the director of the Department of Public Health, said Friday during a virtual press conference that testing is underway for staff and residents.

Despite putting the hospital in quarantine, Colfax said:

“However, I must say, and I’m sad to say this, that we do expect an outbreak.”

He added:

“The pattern of the disease clearly shows that long-term care facilities and their residents are particularly vulnerable to the disease and the spread from the start.”

An investigation is also underway as to the number of people that staff may have been in contact with.

The department is working with University of California, San Francisco and Sutter Health experts to see how the department can provide a stronger response at the Laguna Honda.

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Colfax said the infected staff and patient are in good condition.

Additionally, a staff person who works in the Emergency Department of Zuckerberg San Francisco test positive for Covid-19 and is self-isolating at home. An investigation is underway on with whom the staff person was in contact.

Health care workers are unable to practice social distancing, so Colfax said the department is providing workers with isolation masks, especially for front line health care workers who work in risk areas.

Meanwhile, The City is ramping up its testing of individuals for the virus. Colfax said the department’s lab is now processing 150 tests per day, up from 50 tests per day.

Colfax said he was hopeful by next week that the lab will be able to process 450 tests per day.

San Mateo closes parks after increased use

All San Mateo County Parks have been closed until further notice due to a sharp increase in visitors despite the shelter-in-place and social distancing orders enacted to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, officials said Friday.

San Mateo County Parks had kept 17 of the 23 sites it manages open as of this week.

An increase in visitors last weekend and observations of park and trail use over the past several weeks led to the closure order.

San Mateo County Parks Director Nicholas Calderon said:

“The decision to close parks is not easy, especially now when people are looking for outdoor experiences, but the safety of San Mateo County residents must always be a priority. … In that spirit we had to take this action.”

Data collected from mid-February to March 25 showed increases of 50 percent to 300 percent in park use following the shelter-in-place order.

Park staff also noticed people gathering in groups and failing to keep a safe distance.

San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy said:

“We have a limited amount of time for the shelter in place order to truly save lives. … The sheer number of people crowding our parks and driving to reach them made them unsafe for our community. I appreciate the desire for our residents to get outside and enjoy our open spaces, but we cannot have them descending on our parks in large groups now.”

Entrance gates and parking lots will be locked and notices will be posted that the parks and trails are closed.

Patrol of parks will continue during the closure.

San Francisco prioritizes tests for health care workers, first responders

Tests kits for the novel coronavirus will be prioritized for health care workers and first responders in San Francisco, Mayor London Breed announced Friday.

The announcement comes after union leaders representing workers at both Laguna Honda Memorial Hospital and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital called on Breed and the Department of Public Health to create a plan to protect frontline workers from contracting Covid-19.

During a briefing with city leaders at The City’s Emergency Operations Center, Breed said healthcare workers and first responders will now be able to access Vovid-19 tests through their Kaiser Permanente or Blue Shield insurance plans via their primary care doctors:

“Now, thanks to Kaiser and Blue Shield, we will be able to provide testing for the healthcare workers who are on the frontline and working with patients who have been infected, as well as many of our public safety officials; our firefighters, police officers and those who are on the front line.”

Despite a shortage of test kits, the city’s public health lab currently conducts 150 Covid-19 tests a day, Colfax said. He predicts by next week, as many as 450 tests will be processed there daily.

Also, in the face of a shortage of personal protective equipment, Colfax said healthcare workers and patients in high-risk settings are being given isolation masks for further protection.

Colfax said the city is working with the state and private organizations to acquire more PPE.

As the weekend approaches, Police Chief Bill Scott said officers will be patrolling public areas such as the Embarcadero, Marina Green, and Dolores Park, making sure residents are complying with the shelter-in-place order.

Scott said:

“We want everyone to use good common sense. Stay six feet apart. If you’re going to exercise, have respect for others around you. If you are going to go to the grocery store, or wherever, to keep essential items in your household, practice those same protocols.”

To further deter large public gatherings, parking lots at locations such as Baker Beach, Ocean Beach and Crissy Field have been closed.

Regarding the city’s efforts to shelter the homeless during the order, Breed said the new shelter at Moscone Center West is set to open next week. The addition will help free more space at The City’s shelters and navigation centers for social distancing.

The city effort to lease hotel rooms for vulnerable populations who can’t self-quarantine, like the homeless and those living in single room occupancy hotels, and first responders is also making progress, with 300 rooms already leased. The City plans on securing leases for 3,000 more rooms by next week.

Berkeley seeks PPE

Berkeley is appealing to the community for donations of protective supplies that can be used by public safety workers and others during the novel corona virus emergency.

The list of items includes N-95 masks (expired masks accepted), isolation or surgical masks and gowns, gloves, all sizes of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and sprays (bleach and peroxides), face shields, shoe covers, goggles or other eye protection, and Tyvek coveralls.

The city of Berkeley said in an announcement Friday:

“We’ll use the equipment to help support our firefighters, nurses, police and others as the need arises. … This equipment reduces their exposure to the virus, which in turn reduces the spread and allows them to respond to more cases.”

Items must be in sealed packages or unopened boxes. There is no minimum quantity.

Those who have items to donate can fill out the online donation form at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/H5625ZC.

Officials advised:

“If you’re not sure whether your item is an appropriate type or model, leave a note in the comments section with additional detail.”

Fremont halts evictions during crisis

A moratorium on evictions and other emergency resolutions in response to the novel coronavirus emergency were approved Friday at a special meeting of the Fremont City Council.

The moratorium applies to “all residential rental units and small-scale commercial tenants where the failure to pay rent is due to income loss resulting from the declared Covid-19 public health crisis,” the city said in an announcement.

The council also passed an anti-gouging ordinance extension that limit individuals, contractors, businesses and other entities from increasing prices more than 10 percent for designated goods and services.

A new anti-hoarding and anti-grouping/social distancing ordinance “Condemns the act of hoarding essential goods and requires social distancing practices as directed by Shelter in Place Order and other applicable public health directives related to Covid-19.”

The enactment of an emergency zoning administrator permit process expedites permit approval and reduces public notice and appeal period requirements “where a proposed use is reasonably related to the protection of life or property as affected by Covid-19.”

The council also approved a resolution that designates agents to enter into agreements related to state and local emergency financial assistance and applies to current and future disasters for up to three years.

In addition, the city is waiving penalties and interest on late payments for business tax certificates in response to Covid-19. This applies to any business tax certificate that expired on Dec. 31, 2019 and was due for renewal by Feb. 29, 2020, and will continue for business tax certificates expiring on March 31, 2020 and up for renewal on April 30, 2020. For complete details visit www.Fremont.gov/covidbizresources.

Two more Santa Rosa police test positive

Two more Santa Rosa police officers have tested positive for novel coronavirus, making five total cases confirmed in the department since this week, officials said Friday.

The first three cases were announced on Tuesday.

In announcing the new cases, Santa Rosa Police Chief Rainer Navarro said that the department is working with the Sonoma County Public Health Officer to begin testing more personnel, in particular those who may have come in contact with the confirmed cases.

The department said in an announcement:

“This measure will help the Police Department to prevent further potential spread and get a better understanding of potential additional impacts to the organization. … Transparency continues to be a department priority, and as test results become available, that information will be shared with the public.”

Twenty department employees have been tested to date, with four getting a negative diagnosis and 11 awaiting results that are expacted early next week.

Officials said public health nurses will conduct a detailed interview of each person confirmed, and advise anyone people they have had contact with to self-quarantine for 14 days and report any symptoms to their health care provider and Sonoma County Disease Control.

Police officials said that contact for some of the cases confirmed in the department may have happened before the county shelter-in-place order was issued.

The Santa Rosa Police Department said it is maintaining strict strict sanitization and social distancing protocols and is “massively overhauling scheduling for patrol teams.”

Officers will be assigned a two-week day or night shift, then self-isolate for the following two weeks, with succeeding sets of officers doing the same.

The department said it is also limiting on-the-job contact between employees and reducing the sharing of department vehicles.


Bay City News contributed to this report.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn covers transportation and City Hall in San Francisco for SF Bay. Email: jerold@sfbay.ca. Twitter: @Jerold_Chinn. Instagram: jeroldwashere.

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