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Bay Area, citing rising coronavirus cases, to keep stay-at-home order even as Newsom eases rules

Empty freeways in San Francisco during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders
Freeways sit empty early last month in San Francisco during the stay-at-home orders meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
(Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images)

The Bay Area’s stay-at-home orders will continue to be enforced even as Gov. Gavin Newsom prepares to announce potentially more relaxed statewide guidelines, San Francisco city officials said Wednesday.

During a news conference, Mayor London Breed said the city has been working to learn the exact details of Newsom’s new guidelines, but she stressed that that Bay Area health officers can continue to order tighter restrictions.

The reason has “everything to do” with the numbers of cases and deaths in the Bay Area, she said.

“The numbers are still going up,” she said. “The number of deaths are still going up, and we have not lowered the curve, and we have to be mindful of that.”

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“The more that people have interactions with other people,” she added, “the [greater the] likelihood that other folks will continue to get infected.”

Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s public health director, said one of the goals that needs to be met before reopening is the ability to trace contacts of infected people and test them for the coronavirus.

“We are still building our surveillance system across the Bay Area,” he said. To do that, local officials are working with scientists from the city’s public hospital, UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley.

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“We must hold steady and let the data guide us,” he said.

He said city officials have been asked many questions about how Newsom’s new guidelines will affect San Francisco.

“Let me be clear, the San Francisco and Bay Area health orders currently do not permit curbside pickup from nonessential retailers,” he said. Restrictive orders take precedence over more relaxed guidelines, he added.

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In response to reporters’ questions, he urged people not to visit family on Mother’s Day, even if wearing masks and keeping six feet apart.

Unless residents live in the same households with their mothers, “the greatest gift we can give to our mothers this Mother’s Day is to stay away,” he said. “Don’t go visit your mom in person this year.”

He said 27,334 residents had been tested for the virus as of Wednesday, and about 8% were positive.

City officials also announced that the homeless population in San Francisco has grown during the pandemic. Homeless individuals from other counties have moved to the city in search of hotel rooms, which the city has leased for the most vulnerable members of its longtime homeless population.

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The city is now working to move some street and sidewalk tent encampments in the low-income Tenderloin district to other sites and will close some streets so people in tents can socially distance, officials said.


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