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More financial help is on the way for small businesses in San Francisco struggling to stay afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic as state regional restrictions do not appear to be lifting anytime soon.

Mayor London Breed Tuesday announced a $62 million plan that combines grants and loans to help small businesses that were unable to secure or access state and federal programs.

Breed said during a Covid-19 press briefing that the programs will help businesses that have remained closed during or opened with limited services, such as restaurants, bars, nightlife venues and gyms.

She said:

“This new plan will more than triple the amount of local support we have provided in grants and loans so far during this pandemic.”

The proposed grant program will provide grants of small business owners ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 to support owners who are persons of color, women, long-standing businesses and those unable to access funding from alternate programs.

Allocation of grant amounts will be based on the number of employees each employer had on staff in February 2020.

In addition to the grants, Breed is proposing a $50 million loan program to provide low to zero interest loans of up to $250,000 aimed to helping small businesses that normally generate over $2.5 million in revenue annually, such as restaurants and other anchor businesses that generate slightly more revenue and are sometimes disqualified for assistance.

Breed said:

“These loans will come after the grants and they will help stabilize our small businesses through the challenging months ahead.”

In order to to fund these programs, the mayor asked budget staff to identify cost saving opportunities throughout city departments. The venture will also require approval of a supplemental budget, which will be introduced later this month.

Officials said The City has already awarded businesses $24 million in grants and loans to businesses and recently waived $5 million in fees.

San Francisco Covid-19 Update

The City is working to identify and establish large-scale vaccinations sites, said Department of Public Health Director Grant Colfax.

He said partnerships with health care providers will be key to opening such sites where providers can vaccinate patients in collaboration with the public health department and The City’s Covid Command Center.

Mary Ellen Carroll, executive director of the Department of Emergency, is looking for facilities citywide, especially in communities have been disproportionately impacted by the virus, said Colfax.

He added that opening mass administration sites will depend on the vaccine supply, which is allocated by the state. Colfax said:

“Our goal is to open such sites as fast as possible when the state supplies us with more vaccines. We really need to get more doses and move through the different phases of the state levels.”

Colfax said he expects most residents will be vaccinated by their own private health care providers who will send them notification when dosages are available. For residents without a private provider, Colfax said The City is working on a notification system through public health clinics and community partnerships.

Residents aged 65 and older and part of The City’s healthcare network, will begin to be offered the vaccine this week, said Colfax.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom during a Covid-19 press conference said Dodger Stadium, Petco Park, Cal Expo in Sacramento and Disneyland will be used to host large-scale vaccination operations. 

Locally, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara and the Oakland Coliseum are being considered.

Supervisor Matt Haney questioned public health officials on Twitter Monday about why The City has not established a large-scale vaccination site. He plans to call for a hearing on the matter during Tuesday’s board meeting.

In a statement, Haney said:

“Our residents need clear information and transparency on the roll out of the COVID vaccine and they need to know that our City is taking responsibility for the effective administration of a mass vaccination strategy for San Francisco.”

On hospitalizations, The City continues to experience high numbers of hospitalized Covid-19 patients. Colfax said hospitalizations peaked during the summer surge with 114 hospitalizations — 249 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized as of Monday.

The City is averaging 280 new cases per day and Colfax said he doesn’t expect the state’s stay-at-home to be lifted in the near future. The order is tied to the state-defined Bay Area Region ICU availability.

Colfax said:

“We’re going to have to watch the numbers to see if cases and hospitalization rates start to come down, and then we will have a much better sense of when we will be able to gradually reopen.”

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. He has produced stories for the San Francisco Public Press and Ingleside Light. Send tips to jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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