City Health Officer Tomas Aragon issued a public health order on March 7, 2020 banning visitors to long term care facilities at Laguna Honda Hospital and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. That order was expanded Thursday to 18 privately-owned facilities as well. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

SF restricts visitor access to 18 long-term care facilities to combat spread of coronavirus

San Francisco announced Thursday a ban on non-essential visitors from entering long-term facilities to protect residents from the spread of the coronavirus.

The public health order, issued by The City’s Health Officer Tomas Aragon, builds on the order issued March 7 to ban non-essential visitors from entering city-owned and operated long-term care facilities at Laguna Honda and Zuckerberg San Francisco General hospitals.

The order applies to 18 private long-term care facilities where residents, because of their age and medical conditions, are at an elevated risk of getting seriously ill or dying if they are infected by COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“This order is supported by our best scientific evidence and follows best practices for limiting the spread of the novel coronavirus,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “We’re following the recommendations of public health officials to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community and are taking steps to protect those who are most vulnerable to the virus.”

The concern is that since the virus is spreading in San Francisco, visitors with mild symptoms or who are asymptomatic could expose the residents to the disease.

The order was supported by Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee.

“We know the hardship that this temporary limit on visitors will have on seniors and on their families and loved ones,” Yee said. “We strongly encourage using other means of communication to stay in contact, such as phone calls, video calls, e-mail.”

The order also requires long-term care facilities to create a COVID-19 plan that details the screening of residents, staff and visitors for symptoms.

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