SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – San Francisco is taking steps to keep essential services up and running amid the surge in Omicron-fueled COVID cases, Mayor London Breed told Tuesday.
During a virtual press conference Tuesday morning, Breed said the city’s health department is expanding COVID testing to more than 25,000 tests per week, almost double the capacity three weeks ago. During the tests, disaster service employees and symptomatic persons as well as first aiders and the most vulnerable persons such as residents and employees of qualified care facilities are prioritized. The tests will arrive in weekly deliveries from mid-January.
“Right now we are learning to live with COVID,” said Breed. “The consequences today are not catastrophic. The good news is that this variant is much less dangerous than Delta, but much more contagious. “
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According to Breed, 81% of San Franciscans are vaccinated and 54% are vaccinated. While all city workers are vaccinated, the Omicron variant leads to breakthrough infections, increasing the likelihood that those working for essential city services will be infected and have to stay at home.
“It affects our workforce, especially among the frontline workers,” said Breed. “We saw this before our New Years Eve event, which we had to cancel because we didn’t have enough security … San Francisco’s workforce is well protected. We prioritize essential urban services. The transit will operate, but we ask for your patience. We don’t close anything. We don’t close stores. That’s not 2020. “
While the city’s hospitalization rates are expected to be lower as the omicrones rise, the sheer number of new infections means demand for hospital beds is rising even at a time when health care workers are becoming more infected due to its high prevalence in the community.
We’re in the middle of an Omicron spike in SF, with our average cases more than doubling than last winter.
Our hospital admissions are on the rise, but they are below previous levels and we have the capacity to handle the expected increase.
Here we are. pic.twitter.com/V9UUtsHiuy
– London Breed (@LondonBreed) January 4, 2022
The city’s health director, Dr. Grant Colfax, said the next few weeks would be crucial in limiting the impact of the recent COVID surge and urged the San Franciscans to reduce their risk of exposure to help protect critical infrastructure.
“We are going to see major outbreaks and many people we know and love are getting COVID. However, it is in our control to limit the damage, Colfax said. “And then a hopeful hint, in these cases we expect a peak relatively quickly. Again, our projections show these situations where cases will peak within the next two weeks.
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“Let yourself be improved – it’s not too late,” said Colfax. “And for God’s sake, get vaccinated if you haven’t already.”
People are also encouraged to update their masks, work from home whenever possible, and limit the time they spend in crowded indoor spaces.
On December 27, an average of 829 San Franciscans contracted COVID-19 per day, more than twice as many as last winter with 373 cases per day. Meanwhile, 186 San Francisco police officers – including 167 sworn officers – along with 135 fire fighters and 85 SFMTA employees are in quarantine on Tuesday after being exposed to COVID. These departments prioritize essential operations and create contingency plans to minimize service disruptions.
Further measures required by the city:
- Have anyone aged 5 and over have their COVID-19 vaccine and a booster vaccine if they are eligible.
- Anyone developing symptoms of COVID-19 should isolate themselves and get tested as soon as possible.
- Get retested before you travel, when you return, and 3-5 days later.
- Take advantage of quick and easy home test kits available from pharmacies and stores.
- Outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings. Limit the number and size of indoor gatherings.
- Take all precautions, including vaccinations, booster vaccinations, and testing, when meeting with others without a mask – especially the elderly or immunocompromised, and those who have not been vaccinated or have not yet received their booster.
- Wear a well-fitting mask indoors and in crowded areas. For optimal protection, wear an N95 or double mask with a cloth mask over a surgical mask to improve the seal. If possible, avoid wearing just a cloth mask during this climb.
- Unvaccinated adults should avoid travel and gatherings outside their home.
- Wash hands or use hand sanitiser frequently.
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