SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Mayor London Breed announced Monday that the state’s repeal of the stay at home order would allow San Francisco to begin easing COVID restrictions starting this Thursday.
The mayor first briefed her on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic since state health officials lifted the stay at home order on Monday morning.
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The mayor said the city’s case rate fell from 372 cases per day to 261 new cases per day on Monday. There are currently 194 people hospitalized in the city with COVID and the infection rate (R-effective) has dropped below one. The city’s ICU capacity is currently stabilized at around 26%, Breed said.
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“The good news is that we are in a better place than we have been in a long time,” she said after showing the latest figures.
Breed noted that San Francisco adopted the stay-at-home ordering restrictions early on to help reduce the loss of life from COVID.
“After the Thanksgiving Holidays, we saw the numbers rise aggressively,” Breed said. “We closed early because we were very concerned about what this would mean for our ICU capacity in the city.”
San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area voluntarily became subject to local home-stay restrictions on Dec. 17 and were taking precautionary security measures to cope with the expected vacation spurt of COVID-19 cases.
Had these restrictions not been put in place, Breed said San Francisco would likely just be reaching ICU capacity.
Breed said she expects the state of San Francisco to assign the purple tier on Tuesday on its blueprint for a safer economy so the city can start reducing restrictions on businesses starting Thursday.
“Eating outdoors can resume. Personal services can resume as long as you can wear a mask so you can do your hair and do your nails, ”said Breed.
The loose restrictions also allow for outdoor museums and zoos to reopen, as well as outdoor entertainment such as skate parks and golf courses, as well as limited one-on-one indoor fitness and indoor funerals for up to 12 people.
According to Breed, capacities in grocery and retail stores will also be increased.
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A press release issued by the city also said that San Francisco will allow hotels to resume operations for tourism, but the mandatory local travel quarantine will remain in place and travelers from outside the Bay Area will have to be quarantined for 10 days .
The press release also said that San Francisco will continue the first-time requirement introduced by the state to prevent non-essential businesses from operating between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. or from congregating with members outside their household, although people can still leave their homes during this time for other reasons. The requirement will remain in effect until San Francisco is assigned the state’s Red Level.
Breed indicated that more work needs to be done to reduce the spread of the virus.
“It still means we have to wear masks and socially distance ourselves from each other,” she said. “We just have to use common sense and continue to accept that we will live with it for some time, even if we see the numbers drop when we reopen and when we start administering even more of the vaccine than we already have . “
Dr. Grant Colfax also spoke, noting that the rate of spread had slowed significantly in recent weeks. Colfax noted that while health officials were concerned about the different variants of COVID that had emerged, “don’t panic”.
Colfax said San Francisco administered approximately 59,000 doses of the 127,000 received, while the city’s Department of Health administered 23,000 doses of the 34,500 received.
While the SFDPH is slated to receive over 10,000 new COVID vaccine doses this week, its current supply could be exhausted by Wednesday or Thursday.
“We need more vaccine now so we can hug these shots,” Colfax said.
In answering questions from reporters, Breed defended the Bay Area and early adopted the residence restrictions. He pointed out that San Francisco has the lowest COVID death rate of any major US city.
“Closing a big city like San Francisco and then having the numbers go up and back down are some of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” said Breed. “Because I know what it means, not just for the people who support these restaurants. I know what it means for the workers and the food and what all of these things have to do to be open at all. The fact is, however, that in every decision we have made, we have had to give priority to saving lives. All the numbers we see in San Francisco show that we made the right decision. “
The breed credited San Francisco residents with their resilience to complying with COVID restrictions, which health officials said paved the way for the stay at home order to be lifted.
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“Make sure you keep following this health ordinance and doing all you can. When you go to restaurants just be careful. When visiting friends or family, just follow the health instructions, ”said Breed. “We’re not out of this pandemic, but we’re definitely much better today than we have been in a long time. The better our numbers get, the more we can open, the more we can see each other again in one place. “