Members of the Sheriff’s Department command staff wore masks at a swearing-in ceremony for Assistant Sheriff Tanzanika Carter. One attendee later tested positive. 
Courtesy SFSD

Members of the Sheriff’s Department command staff wore masks at a swearing-in ceremony for Assistant Sheriff Tanzanika Carter. One attendee later tested positive. Courtesy SFSD

Sheriff sees increase in COVID-19 cases as 3 captains test positive

Command staff among 10 infected members in past week

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases among its members, with three captains and seven other staffers testing positive in the last week alone, according to officials.

Ten of the 62 cases the department has recorded since last March were reported in the week ending Thursday, a trend that Sheriff Paul Miyamoto said is reflective of rising community spread in San Francisco.

“Members of our department are members of the community,” Miyamoto said Thursday. “I don’t think we are concerned about a location being a hot spot… but I do know that we are concerned about the increase.”

The Bay Area has been experiencing a third surge of the pandemic since November. Public health officials say new cases and hospitalizations in San Francisco have started to drop as of Monday, but remain up when compared to this summer.

While the Sheriff’s Department declined to offer details about the assignments of each member who tested positive, citing privacy protections, Miyamoto confirmed one of the coronavirus-positive captains attended a swearing-in ceremony at City Hall for the new assistant sheriff on Jan. 11.

The invite-only ceremony gathered some 20 members of the command staff and the family of now Assistant Sheriff Tanzanika Carter.

But Miyamoto said the other two captains who have since tested positive did not attend the ceremony and were stationed at different locations. It’s also unclear whether the captain who tested positive was infected at the time of the ceremony.

“Nothing has been connected to any specific event,” Miyamoto said. “It’s not a concern of ours at all that this was some sort of superspreader.”

Miyamoto said the department held the ceremony with COVID-19 protocols in place. A video of the ceremony posted to social media showed members of the command staff filing into the ceremony wearing masks.

While Department of Human Resources guidelines require all city employees who have “close contact” with someone who tested positive to quarantine for seven to 10 days, Miyamoto said those regulations did not apply to other ceremony attendees because the event lasted just minutes.

Close contact is defined as spending “more than 15 minutes total over 24 hours within six feet of someone with confirmed COVID-19 regardless of whether either party wore a face covering.”

The department did, however, notify everyone who attended the ceremony of the positive results and also encouraged them to get testing, according to spokesperson Nancy Crowley.

“I don’t have any regrets in regards to having an event,” Miyamoto said. “We have to actually swear people in as a part of our job. The recognition of her coming in as third in command here is something of note.”

The Sheriff’s Department regularly gathers its members indoors for muster. Law enforcement is exempt from The City’s shelter-in-place order to the extent they are performing essential services.

It’s unclear whether any of the other new positive cases were from deputies assigned to County Jail, where officials have been concerned about the potential for an outbreak since the pandemic started.

While there have been more cases in the last week than the average week in the last 10 months, the uptick does not appear to have translated into more COVID-19 cases behind bars.

Data shows the department currently has 17 inmates who have tested positive as of Thursday compared to a peak of 20 last month, and 13 of those inmates have “recovered.”

Miyamoto said the department is responding to the uptick by more frequently reminding members to follow safety protocols.

“We want to make things as safe as possible,” he said.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsCrimesan francisco news

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Deputy public defender Chris Garcia outside the Hall of Justice on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
As pandemic wanes, SF public defender hopes clients will get ‘their day in court’

Like other attorneys in San Francisco, Deputy Public Defender Chris Garcia has… Continue reading

Hyphen hosts a group show at Space Gallery in San Francisco in 2010. (Photo courtesy of Albert Law/Pork Belly Studio)
What’s in a name? Asian American magazine fights to keep its identity

An investor-backed media group laid claim to the moniker of SF’s long-running Hyphen magazine, sparking a conversation about writing over community history

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fight over ‘poverty tows’ heats up

‘What can we do to ensure the vehicle stays in the hands of the owner?’

Crab fisherman Skip Ward of Marysville casts his crab net out off a pier near Fort Point. (Craig Lee/Special to The	Examiner)
San Francisco came back to life, and we captured it all

Last spring, in the early days of the pandemic, the bestselling authors… Continue reading

Revelers at Madrone Art Bar in the early hours of June 15, 2021 (Courtesy Power Quevedo).
No social distancing at Motown-themed dance party

‘I don’t care how anyone feels, I just want to dance!’

Most Read