Amid Increased Hospitalizations, Government Officials Urge Caution Over July 4 Weekend

San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón. Screen shot from press conference

San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón. Screen shot from press conference

San Francisco public officials warned that people should avoid gatherings to celebrate July 4, as infection rates and hospitalizations linked to the COVID-19 pandemic have surged over the past week.

Dr. Tomás Aragón, San Francisco Health Officer, and Joaquín Torres, the director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, urged San Franciscans to get outside to some of the area’s surrounding nature over the holiday weekend in lieu of attending indoor gatherings. 

Hospitalizations have increased by 49% in San Francisco over the last week. While the number of available beds in acute care wards and ICUs remains promising, Aragón and Torres urged people to wear masks, practice social distancing, wash their hands and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces.

Meanwhile, the rising number of infections and hospitalizations in nearby counties is expected to affect San Francisco.  Officials have yet to confirm timelines for reopening fitness spaces, barber shops and salons originally scheduled for June 29.

Aragón said the county is likely to be included among the four that Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to add to the COVID-19 watch list soon. 

Listen to these and other updates in the full press conference audio below:

  • San Francisco has 64 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, while hospitals in the county have 35% of acute care beds and 28% of ICU beds available, Aragón said. But last week’s rise in cases means the infection rate is at 5.8 per 100,000 — perilously close to the 6.0 infection rate that could mean case numbers spike. (6:31)
  • Torres reiterated his commitment to supporting San Francisco’s small business community through times of unprecedented need. Awards for a $2.5 million resiliency fund for small businesses will begin to be announced next week, in addition to the $13 million in zero-interest loans that are already available. (15:24)
  • Public health officials will be monitoring the data closely over the coming days to determine when reopenings originally planned for June 29 could take place. The earliest possible dates would be next week, according to Aragón. But that depends on how well the public follows health practices and social distancing over the weekend. (23:53)
  • Rolling back existing re-openings, as has happened elsewhere in the state, may not be necessary as long as San Franciscans follow best practices, Aragón said. (34:24)
  • Government officials are unsure as to why the Bay Area is seeing cases rise, despite slower re-opening measures than elsewhere in California. Dr. Aragón says that potential hypotheses include essential workers having to interact with mask-less individuals and crowded shared housing. (41:39)
  • San Francisco has received 13 prisoners from San Quentin who tested positive for COVID-19. Dr. Aragón said that this count may be updated this evening. (50:38)