San Francisco’s Public Health Director Grant Colfax said Wednesday that prior plans to reopen will remain paused due to a surge in Covid-19 cases.

An overnight outbreak at Santa Rita Jail and one continuing at San Quentin is sparking serious alarm about health conditions among the state’s incarcerated population.

Counties across the Bay Area have had to roll back reopening plans and are grappling with how to handle schooling as the fall semester approaches in coming weeks. Those decisions have become even heavier as California this week broke one-day case records.

Here are some of the bigger Covid-19 stories in the past few days.


  • Confirmed Cases: 3,570,037
  • Deaths: 138,267

Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center Covid-19 global tracking tool as of Thursday at 6:34 p.m.

Open SFBay USA coronavirus tracker.

The Trump administration Tuesday backed off on an attempt to revoke student visas for international students attending universities that opt to hold only online classes in the fall.

Before the reversal, thousands of international students across the nation were at risk of being sent back to their home countries, where time differences and access to technology could seriously hamper distance learning provided through U.S. universities.

A number of universities, including Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, challenged the policy in a lawsuit but the administration quickly backed off and settled. 

Joseph Williams Harvard University was one campus in a joint lawsuit against the Trump administration filed after a threat to revoke student visas for international students who attend universities that choose online-only instruction during Covid-19.

The situation in Florida has become increasingly dire by the day. The state confirmed nearly 92,000 new cases in just the one week between July 8 and Wednesday. At its current trajectory, Florida could soon surpass California’s cumulative infection total, which added just more than 66,000 new cases in that same timeframe. Florida’s population is nearly half that of California’s.


  • Confirmed Cases: 358,713
  • Deaths: 7,424

Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center Covid-19 global tracking tool as of Wednesday at 5:35 p.m.

The state reported its highest one-day gain Wednesday with 11,142 new confirmed Covid-19 cases. Another 8,544 new cases were added to that total with Thursday’s update from the California Department of Public Health. More than 31 percent of the state’s Covid-19 hospital patients are in Los Angeles County.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that $600 million has been made available to counties, cities and other government entities to enable the purchase and rehabilitation of properties to be used for long-term housing for unsheltered residents. The new Homekey program builds on the Project Roomkey initiative that housed some homeless individuals at high risk of Covid-19 illness in vacant hotel rooms across the state.

Heidi Alletzhause Clergy and doctors gathered in protest at San Francisco, Calif. Mayor London Breed’s home on Thursday, April 30, 2020 to call for immediate shelter of homeless residents amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development will begin accepting applications for Homekey funds on July 22.

As school districts across the nation and Bay Area debate the risk of sending youth back to school in the coming weeks, State Superintendent Tony Thurmond said Wednesday that school districts should proceed with caution.

He added that there was not one size fits all strategy and that some schools in rural areas without a high infection rate of Covid-19 cases can possibly reopen with safety guidelines.

Some districts in areas with high Covid-19 infection rates — notably in Los Angeles, San Diego and West Contra Costa — have already decided that students will not immediately return to physical classroom settings.

Federal officials, however, have pushed to reopen schools at full capacity.

Jesse Garnier SFBay Bay Area Covid-19 confirmed cases as of Thursday, July 16, 2020.
Open SFBay Bay Area coronavirus dashboard in new window.

Alameda County

  • Confirmed Cases: 8,627
  • Deaths: 154

Source: Alameda County Public Health Department as of Thursday with data reported through Wednesday.

Forty Santa Rita Jail inmates have tested positive for Covid-19 since Wednesday, the Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. J.D. Nelson said. There were six cases total among inmates prior to the recent outbreak. All 40 reported Thursday were housed in the same unit and Nelson said they were separated from other inmates.

Among staff at the facility, 42 have so far tested positive — seven are actively infected and one senior deputy sheriff is critically ill.

Daniel Arauz/Flickr Santa Rita County Jail in Dublin, Calif.

San Leandro Unified School District announced Monday that they will offer only distance learning as school year begins. The district said in a statement that much was learned during distance learning Summer School that will be used to improve the process in the fall.

The district said:

“Since the initial closure on March 13, the district has been clear that schools would not reopen to in-person instruction until it was safe to do so. Given the current local conditions, it does not appear that point has been reached.”   

The state Wednesday granted Alameda County a variance that now allows the Oakland Zoo to reopen and outdoor dining to resume. But, the variance comes at a dubious time when due to rising case numbers, the county had officially been on the state’s County Monitoring List for three consecutive days, making it subject to additional state-imposed restrictions. Per the new state orders, places of worship can only hold services outdoors and indoor malls were required to close.

Contra Costa County

  • Confirmed Cases: 5,233
  • Deaths: 93

Source: Contra Costa Health Services as of Thursday at 11:30 a.m.

At a special Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, board members unanimously passed an ordinance extending the county’s eviction moratorium for residential tenants and small businesses through Sept. 30.

Supervisor and board chair Candace Andersen said in a statement:

“The emergency is not over with the Covid-19 pandemic. The economic impact our residents face has not subsided. We sincerely hope passage of this new ordinance to extend the eviction protection and rent freeze will continue to protect renters and small businesses, even as landlords and renters work together to have tenants pay what they can over a longer period of time.”

The ordinance, which applies to all 19 cities within Contra Costa County, is intended to help tenants and small businesses who cannot pay rent and can demonstrate to their landlord loss of income or out-of-pocket expenses related to Covid-19.

Nik Wojcik/SFBay Sign at the El Dorado Middle School in Concord, Calif. announcing the campus closure for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year.

Mount Diablo Unified School District announced that the 2020-2021 school year will begin Aug. 13 as distance learning. The decision came after the Governing Board of Education Monday gave unanimous support for a “primarily” remote class plan. The district will soon issue a Revised Reopening Plan with “selective phasing into classroom environments only when and where the highest standards of health and safety can be achieved.”

Marin County

  • Confirmed Cases: 4,078
  • Deaths: 41

Source: Marin Health and Human Services as of Wednesday.

*Marin County began reporting San Quentin State Prison cases separately, but for the purposes of tracking actual infections and potential impact on hospitalization rates, we’ve included inmate cases with the county’s cumulative total. However, staff member infections are being included in the individual’s county of residence reporting.

The county added 106 new cases since Wednesday’s health department update, marking the highest one-day case gain by far, according to Marin public health officials. Twenty-nine Covid-19 patients are currently hospitalized countywide — seven have come from the San Quentin State Prison Facility.

San Quentin State Prison

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reports that a total of 2,063 inmates have so far tested positive for Covid-19 — 12 of whom have died as a result.

Thirty-seven inmates have been released with active cases and a total of 226 San Quentin State Prison staff have tested positive. Fifty-eight staff members who have so far recovered and returned to work. The facility total, including both staff and inmates, has reached 2,289 confirmed cases cumulatively.

Jesse Garnier SFBay Covid-19 dashboard highlighting Marin County cumulative cases as of Thursday, July 16, 2020.

Napa County

  • Confirmed Cases: 578
  • Deaths: 4

Source: Department of Health and Human Services as of Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

Infections in the city of Napa represent 56 percent of the county’s cumulative total. During the week of July 5, Napa County administered 2,846 tests with a 3.5 percent positivity rate.

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday adopted an Urgency Enforcement Ordinance that makes violations of state orders misdemeanors punishable by law. Citations with fines or penalties can be given by local law enforcement if individuals or businesses are found to be out of compliance.

San Francisco

  • Confirmed Cases: 4,860
  • Deaths: 51

Source: San Francisco Department of Public Health with data reported through Wednesday. 

Public health officials said Wednesday in a press briefing that The City will continue to pause on allowing more businesses to reopen as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to increase.

One new death was reported with Thursday’s health department update.

Director of the Department of Public Health Dr. Grant Colfax said that health indicators in The City show a surge in new cases.

The weekly rate of change in Covid-19 hospitalizations is at 33 percent while The City’s goal is for the rate to be at less than 10 percent. That has put the health indicator at a level of high alert.

Another health indicator in the red zone is the case rate per 100,000 residents, which currently sits at 7.7.

The reproduction rate of Covid-19 is at 1.3 meaning that for every person infected with the virus, that infected person is passing the virus on to more than one person, Colfax said:

“Now, 1.3 doesn’t seem that … far from one. But if we do not do better, we are looking at major problems by late August and September with an average peak, an average peak of 900 hospitalized patients by early October.”

To give some perspective, The City peaked in April with 94 Covid-19-related hospitalizations, Colfax said.

Scot Tucker Parkgoers are seen gathering at Washington Square Park in North Beach on Saturday, May 16, 2020.

He explained that a number of factors have contributed to the rise in cases, including more people gathering with people outside their households for birthday parties and other family visits.

People gathering without using masks or physically distancing are delaying The City’s efforts to reopen. Colfax said:

“For those of you not taking precautions, you are not helping.”

The public can track of The City’s public health indicators online.

 San Mateo County

  • Confirmed Cases: 4,333
  • Deaths: 114

Source: San Mateo County Health Department with data reported through Wednesday.

San Mateo County’s Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Marrow issued a new public health order Wednesday allowing limited outdoor visits and necessary indoor visits to long-term care facilities with safety precautions.

Facilities that would like to allow for limited outdoor visits need to certify in writing to the county’s public health department that they have adequate access to Covid-19 testing, have implemented the county’s Covid-19 Mass Testing Strategy and maintain sufficient supplies of PPE and essential cleaning supplies.

Jesse Garnier SFBay Covid-19 dashboard highlighting San Mateo County cases by day as of Thursday, July 16, 2020.

Additionally, the order reads:

“(F)acilities must also have recorded no new positive Covid-19 cases among staff or residents for at least two sequential rounds of surveillance testing.”

Santa Clara County

  • Confirmed Cases: 7,046
  • Deaths: 176

Source: Santa Clara County Public Health as of Thursday.

Wednesday, the county shut down several business sectors, including gyms, hair salons and barbershops, nail salons, indoor malls, non-essential offices and indoor places of worship.

State officials ordered Santa Clara County to close those industries for indoor operations after a third consecutive day on the County Monitoring List.

Following the governor’s announcement, Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s public health officer, said in a statement Monday:

“The fight against Covid-19 is unfortunately far from over, but our residents and businesses have shown how we can collectively make an extraordinary difference in saving lives and safeguarding our community. We strongly urge everyone to rigorously and consistently follow the State and local health orders.”

The county Thursday reported an additional three deaths.

Solano County

  • Confirmed Cases: 2,483
  • Deaths: 31

Source: Solano Public Health as of Thursday at 4:30 p.m. The county does not report data on Saturdays and Sundays.

Health officials report a seven-day test postivity rate average of 8.4 percent out of the 40,700 Covid-19 tests so far administered. The county’s hospitalization rate continues to rise, with 55 coronavirus patients currently received hospital treatment — that number was only 27 patients just 10 days prior.

Fairfield and Vallejo continue to record the highest number of infections, with 853 and 819, respectively. Those two cities represent more than 67 percent of the county’s cumulative case total.

Sonoma County

  • Confirmed Cases: 1,979 
  • Deaths: 16

Source: County of Sonoma with data as of Wednesday at 9:40 p.m.

Of the nearly 2,000 cases confirmed countywide, 987 are still active infections.


  • Confirmed Cases: 13,758,533
  • Deaths: 589,093

Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center Covid-19 global tracking tool as of Thursday at 6:34 p.m.

Open SFBay Worldwide coronavirus tracker.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

Santa Rita Jail reports 40 inmate Covid-19 cases since Wednesday

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