Breed halts plans to reopen more businesses as COVID-19 cases surge

103 newly diagnosed infections prompts delay

A day after San Francisco secured approval from the state to reopen more types of business, Mayor London Breed announced Friday she was halting those plans.

“COVID-19 cases are rising throughout CA,” Breed said in a tweet. “We’re now seeing a rise in cases in SF too. Our numbers are still low but rising rapidly. As a result, we’re temporarily delaying the re-openings that were scheduled for Monday.”

Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the Department of Public Health, said during a Friday afternoon virtual press conference that the decision was based on “an increase in our positivity rate,” which nearly doubled from 2.7 percent on June 14 to 5.1 percent Thursday.

That means that hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, tattoo salons, massage establishments, museums, zoos, outdoor bars and outdoor swimming will no longer be allowed to reopen on Monday, the Mayor’s Office confirmed.

“Yesterday we saw 103 cases. On June 15, when we first reopened outdoor dining and in-store retail, we had 20,” Breed tweeted. “At our current rate, the number could double rapidly. If that continues & we don’t intervene, we’ll be at such a high number that our only option would be to shut down.”

Colfax did not provide a specific reason for the increase in cases.

“We don’t have any indication at this point that it’s tied to a specific facility or an event, but with our contact tracing, partner notification efforts, will do everything we can to better assess that,” Colfax said.

He added that they continue to see a disproportionate “representation of Latinx diagnoses in these cases.”

It’s not clear how long The City is “delaying” the reopening.

“Our public health experts will evaluate the data over the coming days to determine if it’s safe to move forward,” Breed tweeted. “I know people are anxious to reopen — I am too. But we can’t jeopardize the progress we’ve made. We’ll continue to let you know as soon as decisions are made.”

Colfax said that they will watch the testing results and “over the next few days it will be especially telling” whether The City can move forward with its reopening plans.

If the rate of cases continues to climb, Colfax said that The City may have to scale back what businesses and activities are currently allowed. However, he said at this time “ we are not reversing.”

A statement from the Mayor’s Office said that “there is no change to businesses and activities currently allowed under prior reopening phases.”

Colfax reminded people to “not let our collective guard down” and continue to wear face coverings, wash hands and remain six feet apart.

He said that more cases are expected but that they don’t want to see a spike that would overwhelm the hospitals.

Colfax said that The City’s hospital capacity remains “good.”

In fact, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital is receiving patients diagnosed with COVID-19 from other parts of the state, including from Imperial County and San Quentin State Prison, where there are outbreaks of coronavirus cases.

But he said there is a pattern when there is a surge in cases, there is a surge in hospitalizations two or three weeks later, which is something he will closely watch.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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