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.”

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

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

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.

Landlords Threaten to Sue Over S.F. Eviction Ban

A landlords’ group plans to sue San Francisco over tenant protections established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the organization’s executive director. The Board of Supervisors this month approved a permanent ban on evictions for rents unpaid from mid-March through July. An earlier local eviction moratorium would have allowed landlords to start pursuing evictions of tenants for any remaining unpaid rents — even those due during the emergency — by the end of December. The end date of the eviction ban is based on an executive order by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who could extend the time period. The switch to a permanent ban galvanized the San Francisco Apartment Association, a property owners group with thousands of members, to threaten legal action.

A march for racial justice and against police killings moves down Market Street at Van Ness Avenue on June 19, 2020. Brian Howey / Public Press

Demonstrators March Through San Francisco to Mark Juneteenth

Hundreds marched through San Francisco on Friday afternoon to mark Juneteenth, protesting police killings and calling for racial justice. The San Francisco Public Press followed the demonstration, which made its way from the Ferry Building to City Hall and then on to the school district building. Read updates from the march below, and hear a compilation of reflections from demonstrators in this recent episode of our radio program and podcast, “Civic.”

4:25 p.m.

With some 250 protesters still in front of the school district administrative building on Franklin Street, Indigenous dancers performed a ceremony while protesters sat and knelt. Lexi Hall sang “Lean On Me” with some demonstrators occasionally chiming in for the chorus. 

“I think it’s definitely important for the youth to be a voice for the Black Lives Matter movement,” said Hall. “And we all came together, all of the creatives in San Francisco to put on a show and celebrate Juneteenth for the city.”

Hall’s partner, 19-year-old rapper Xanubis, had performed several times at the march that day. Xanubis and Lexi Hall.

Dr. Grant Colfax

Health Director: S.F. Must Be Vigilant, Flexible as City Reopens

As San Francisco improves its ability to mitigate the spread and treat the effects of the novel coronavirus, the city is also grappling with the fallout of its economic shutdown. Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the city’s Department of Public Health, said at a virtual press conference on Tuesday that the city has rapidly expanded its testing and contact tracing capacity and improved its supplies of personal protective equipment. While the number of new cases has not reduced to the city’s goal, the number of hospitalizations has dropped and hospital capacity meets the city’s target. Colfax acknowledged, however, that the economic shutdown resulting from the city’s shelter-in-place order has detrimental public health effects as well as economic ones. He also said he expected to see case numbers increase as the city reopens.

A homeless person sits under a blanket next to a cluster of tents in the Tenderloin May 13. Noah Arroyo / San Francisco Public Press

Nonprofits Want Added Homeless Protections in UC Hastings Lawsuit Against S.F.

Three nonprofit groups have asked to be included in a lawsuit against San Francisco by the University of California Hastings law school and a Tenderloin business group over the worsening conditions in the neighborhood since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Their aim: ensuring homeless people’s needs are considered during negotiations on how to address the issue. If granted, the motion would add the Coalition on Homelessness, homeless shelter Hospitality House and homeless services provider Faithful Fools as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in May. That would allow them to challenge some of the university’s complaints against the city, which the three groups say ignore the interests of unhoused residents and classify them as a public nuisance. The groups believe the latter classification could lead to the city performing sweeps, or issuing move-along orders and confiscating belongings from homeless residents, said Lauren Hansen, the Public Interest Law Project attorney representing the service providers.

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S.F. Mayor Imposes Curfew After Unrest

Beginning today, San Francisco officials will be enforcing an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily curfew. Mayor London Breed announced the curfew, and said the National Guard was standing by, Saturday night after unrest broke out in the city’s downtown area.

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As Businesses Re-open, Mask Requirements Expand

The shelter-in-place order that has directed San Francisco residents to stay home except to conduct essential business will be in effect indefinitely, though certain previously restricted businesses will soon be allowed to re-open. Meanwhile, the city’s mask order will be expanded, now requiring everyone to cover their noses and mouths within 30 feet of another person.

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Homeless Activists’ Latest Tactic: Occupying Hotel Rooms

Seven protesters from Poor Magazine, a publication and activist organization, attempted to occupy the Marriott Marquis hotel in downtown San Francisco on Monday morning to demand that the city house more homeless residents in the thousands of hotel rooms left vacant during the coronavirus pandemic.