San Francisco Mayor London Breed Declares State Of Emergency Over Coronavirus

San Francisco Mayor London Breed Declares State Of Emergency Over Coronavirus

There have been no confirmed coronavirus cases originating in San Francisco, but Mayor London Breed declared a state of emergency: It’s “all about preparedness,” she said. Breed smiles at the crowd before her inauguration outside City Hall, July 11, 2018, in San Francisco. The first African-American female mayor of San Francisco, she vowed to help drug users and the homeless in a city that has come to embody extreme wealth and poverty. (Gabrielle Lurie/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, Pool)

There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus originating in the San Francisco area, but Mayor London Breed declared a state of emergency, saying on Tuesday that such a move is “all about preparedness.”

More than 2,770 people have died from the coronavirus and 81,296 have been infected — mostly in China. Outside of China, deaths have been confirmed in Korea (12), Italy (11) and Iran (15), according to the World Health Organization.

The U.S. has 53 confirmed coronavirus cases. Just two of those patients are thought to have been exposed in the U.S., WHO reported.

Health officials are warning people that the virus will likely take a foothold in the U.S. Expect the possibility of “severe” disruptions to everyday life, said Nancy Messonnier, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, at a press conference on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump downplayed the threat. “The people are getting better. They’re all getting better,” he said. “I think that whole situation will start working out. A lot of talent, a lot of brainpower is being put behind it.”

Three people have been treated for coronavirus at San Francisco hospitals and two have been discharged, but no known cases originated in the city, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“We see the virus spreading in new parts of the world every day, and we are taking the necessary steps to protect San Franciscans from harm,” Breed said at a press conference. “We need to allocate more resources to make sure we are prepared.”

Less than four weeks ago, just 11 coronavirus cases had been reported in the U.S. More than half were in California at the time, and four were concentrated in the Silicon Valley or San Francisco areas, raising concerns that more cases would likely be reported there.

“We do not have evidence to suggest that the novel virus is circulating in the Bay Area, Santa Clara County or Northern California,” Santa Clara County health officer Dr. Sara Cody said in a Jan. 31 statement.

Santa Clara and San Diego counties have since declared states of emergency before San Francisco followed suit.

Three coronavirus patients who were transferred from other areas have been treated in San Francisco hospitals, but there are no other active cases in the city, officials said, according to CNN.

San Francisco has strong travel links with Asia and China, where the outbreak started in December. As of 2012, 21.4 percent of the population in San Francisco was of Chinese descent, representing at least 150,000 Chinese American residents. Airline traffic is robust to and from Asia, however, airlines have recently suspended many routes.

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Coronavirus transmission is about travel, not ethnicity, Dr. Grant Colfax, director of Health and Human Services in Marin County, across the Golden Gate Strait from San Francisco. “We are monitoring hundreds of people who have recently returned from travel in mainland China and are helping them to self-quarantine and watch for symptoms.”

What a coronavirus state of emergency means for San Francisco

  • A state of emergency allows staff including public health nurses, case managers and social workers to be pulled off “nonessential” duties to focus on preparedness and prevention, San Francisco health officials said in a press conference.
  • Clinicians will be on call at all times to answer questions from anyone who calls the city’s customer service number, 311, with clinical questions about coronavirus.
  • “It allows us to look at things like shelters, and other opportunities for us to expand, in the event that that’s necessary, and do a broader assessment of the city’s capacity to respond in the event that there is an outbreak,” Colfax said.
  • It also allows for future reimbursement by the state and federal governments, Breed said.