San Francisco’s coronavirus surge worsens, now on state watchlist

A view of San Francisco's skyline. Mayor London Breed said the city's reopening has been put on hold indefinitely.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the city’s reopening has been put on hold indefinitely.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said Friday the city has now been added to the state’s watch list because of rising hospitalizations for the coronavirus and implored residents to avoid gathering with others outside their households.

“We have a small window of time now to get our cases under control,” she said during a virtual news conference.

She said the city’s reopening has been put on hold indefinitely, and if conditions fail to improve, the city may close more businesses and activities.

The city will issue a new health order Monday requiring private medical providers to give same-day COVID-19 tests to residents with symptoms, those who have been exposed to infected people and workers whose jobs make them at high risk for contracting the virus, she said.

Breed disclosed she had tested negative for the virus a second time after being exposed to an infected person at an outdoor public event, “but this does not mean I am immune or I can get let my guard down going forward,” she said.


Dr. Grant Colfax, who joined Breed at the news conference, warned that those being hospitalized are “not only the elderly and the most frail.”

In fact, he said, the average age of COVID-19 patients at San Francisco General Hospital since July 1 has been 41.

“Young people, middle-aged people, older people are all at risk for this disease,” he said.

Breed told the story of a city disaster worker who had to isolate after her roommate contracted the virus.

The roommate had gone camping with about 15 people.The group vowed to wear masks when together and to distance. But after a few days, “as is human nature,” the campers shared meals and the masks came off, Breed said.

One camper had cold symptoms, and the roommate returned with a cough and tested positive for the virus. The city worker, who wore a mask around the roommate, tested negative, Breed said.

“Gatherings remain inherently dangerous, and you need to give a lot of thought about whether they are worth it,” Breed said.

Colfax said the city has been doing 60% of the COVID-19 testing, and private health providers needed to step up. Testing nationwide is suffering because of a lack of leadership from the federal government, he said, and some people are being forced to wait a week to get an appointment for a test and then wait a week or longer to get the results.

“The virus is moving very quickly,” Colfax warned.

It took San Francisco 38 days to go from 2,000 positive cases to 3,000 cases but only 13 days to move from 4,000 cases to the nearly 5,000 cases in the city today, he said.

Colfax said the city’s Latinos continue to make up about 50% of the positive cases even though Latinos represent only 15% of the city’ population.