Shireen McSpadden

New Coronavirus Infections Fall Slightly, Food Assistance Extended

San Francisco’s COVID-19 infection rate is leveling off, but  Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said the growth rate is still much higher than he would like to see. “We are finding about 90 new cases of COVID-19 every day. That number has started to drop a bit from its high point two weeks ago, but it is still very concerning. Anything above 50 cases a day continues to put us in the red zone on high alert. And we have been there for about the last six weeks.”

The Great Plates meal delivery program for seniors sheltering in place has been extended through Sept.

Major COVID-19 Surge in S.F.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in San Francisco is rising rapidly and the city is facing “a major surge.” Department of Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said. “In April, we experienced a surge of COVID-19 cases, which at its peak, saw 94 San Franciscans in the hospital. That number dropped to just 26 patients six weeks ago. Today, it’s 107.” 

Dr. Colfax said the growth rate of new infections is alarming. “It took us 38 days to go from 2000 to 3000 cases, it took us half as long to go from 3000 to 4000.

Working From Home May Drastically Change the Workplace Even After the Pandemic

Zoom meetings and other communications tools have made it possible for many white collar workers to remain employed as they work from home. 

Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom says what had once been uncommon, is now a necessity. “Before COVID, about 5% of working days were spent at home and that was done by about 15% of Americans, with an average of one in every three days. During COVID, 42% of us are now working from home so it’s an eight-fold increase.”

Courtesy of Nicholas Bloom. Of the remaining pre-COVID workers, Bloom found that nearly 33% are not employed and the remaining ones are essential workers and others who work directly with people or products. 

When the pandemic is over, Bloom predicts that fewer people will work five days a week in a central office. “We’ll go from very occasionally working from home to something like two to three days a week.” He predicts that will have a major impact on where people will live.

Rendering of a self-sustaining village. - Courtesy Kuth Ranieri Architects

Imagining an Eco-Friendly Post-Pandemic Downtown

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for space in San Francisco’s office towers seemed insatiable. But with no end to the pandemic in sight and the prospect that many employers will allow their people to continue to work from home after the crisis, it’s possible that at least some of those gleaming office towers will empty out. As they sheltered in place in North Beach, architects Elizabeth Ranieri and Byron Kuth wondered what could be done with all of that vertical real estate. 

They looked at two blocks of buildings bounded by Beale, Main, Market and Mission streets where Pacific Gas and Electric is scheduled to move out of one of the largest buildings. Ranieri said they realized that the entire two blocks could become a self-sustaining village. 

“This is potentially the building stock that’s needed because it’s quite diverse,” she said. “Everything from the 1970’s tower to the historic buildings on Market Street that would be very well suited for repurposing for housing.

Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health

COVID-19 Hospitalizations in S.F. Could Be Ten Times Higher by October

San Francisco’s Department of Public Health says further reopening plans remain on hold as the city sees a surge in new coronavirus infections that could lead to dire consequences in coming weeks. 

“The virus is not only still out there, it is out there more than ever before,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the department, in a press conference Wednesday. “We are working with researchers who are seeing the reproductive rate of the virus continue to climb above one. Right now we estimate that that number is approximately 1.3,” he said, referring to the R0 or “r naught,” a term used to describe the infection rate of a disease.  In this case, that would essentially mean that for every three people with the virus, four new people are becoming infected. 

Dr. Colfax said at the current rate the number of infected people needing hospital beds in San Francisco could rise tenfold by fall. “If we do not do better, we are looking at major problems by late August and September, with an average peak of 900 hospitalized patients by early October,” he said. “And just to put this in some frame of reference, on our last surge, in April, we peaked at 94 cases.”

Colfax said contact tracing is showing that the spread in San Francisco is mostly among small groups of people who know each other. 

“There’s increased activity in terms of the social gatherings that people are having,” he said.

Director of Public Health, Dr. Grant Colfax. Screen capture via Zoom.

San Franciscans Urged to Stay Home During Holiday Weekend as COVID Cases Rise

San Francisco’s Emergency Operations Center Thursday urged residents to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday weekend at home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Over the last two weeks, the seven-day average number of new cases in the city has more than doubled and hospitalization rose by more than 50% in the last week. As of June 29, there were 67 COVID-19 patients in city hospitals, including 18 transferred in from hot spots in Imperial and Fresno counties and San Quentin Prison in Marin County. Department of Public Health Executive Director Dr. Grant Colfax said, “The best thing to do is to stay home, celebrate with members of your household and celebrate virtually with others.”

Graphic courtesy of the San Francisco Mime Troupe

Political Theater Troupe Goes on Air With New Radio Serial

The San Francisco Mime Troupe’s annual free performances in the park skewering political figures with satirical musical theater have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the troupe will continue to perform on the radio. In its first ever serialized radio play, “Tales of the Resistance,” the Mime Troupe will try out a new medium in nine parts across four genres: noir, sci-fi, horror and adventure. Plays will be released bi-weekly from July 4 through Oct. 24. They will air on KSFP, the low-power FM radio station managed by the San Francisco Public Press, and other local radio stations.

Out in the Bay producers

LGBTQ Show Returns, Explores Lessons for Activists

As San Francisco marks the 50th Anniversary of the first LGBTQ rights march, the program “Out in the Bay” is returning to the air on KSFP, a radio station created by the San Francisco Public Press. “Out in the Bay” returns after a four-year hiatus. It ran weekly on public radio station KALW from 2004 to 2016, covering a pivotal period in the LGBTQ rights movement that saw the legalization of same-sex marriage, the enactment of hate-crime legislation and major advances in the rights of transgender people. Mel Baker, producer and contributor for “Civic,” spoke with “Out in the Bay” founding producer and host Eric Jansen and producer Truc Nguyen about the show and the parallels between the LGBTQ rights movement and the broader fight for civil rights. The brutal, homophobic murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998 energized nationwide protests against hate crimes, Jansen said.