COVID-19 Is Priority for S.F. Budget, Breed Says

Mayor London Breed.

Screen capture from SFGovTV

Mayor London Breed.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been set aside in San Francisco’s budget for COVID-19 prevention, testing and treatment, Mayor London Breed announced this morning at a press conference in San Francisco.

Over the next year, the Mayor’s Office has allocated $185 million for health care operations, $183 million for housing and shelter, $62 million for food distribution and $16 million for communications. 

This will go toward priorities including keeping the COVID-19 command center in operation, community outreach, testing capacities and funding hotel rooms and RVs for homeless residents during shelter-in-place. The city will also continue to work on building on wage replacement programs, widening education efforts to support public schools with remote learning and funding mobile testing and food access in the hardest-hit neighborhoods and demographics.

“We are investing $446 million in this upcoming budget in COVID as part of the understanding that we are going to be living with this for some time,” Breed said. “This is the reality of today. I hope this is not the reality of our next budget cycle.”

Breed warned that the current budget does not take into account further surges, and relies on CARES Act funding and on federal funding from FEMA, which could take some time for reimbursement.

Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the city’s Department of Public Health, said infection rates in San Francisco are declining. The reproduction rate, or R-rate, which is calculated using hospitalizations and shows how many people an infected person will pass the virus on to, is now between 0.95 and 0.98, down from 1.4 when infections spiked in July.

Colfax said this decrease was due to the majority of San Franciscans following public health guidelines such as wearing facial coverings, social distancing and avoiding public gatherings. 

Other updates from today’s press conference:

  • There have been 7,692 San Franciscans diagnosed with COVID-19, 67 of whom have died, said Breed. (00:36)
  • San Francisco’s hospitals are caring for 88 COVID-19 patients, a drop of almost 25% from July’s peak, Colfax added. (14:30)
  • The city plans to invest $56 million in testing alone next year, said Colfax.
  • The public should continue to be vigilant about mask-wearing, social distancing and avoiding gatherings, like those happening recently at Dolores Park, both Breed and Colfax emphasized. (22:08)
  • There may be statewide undercounting due to an error in the CalReady system, Colfax said. The Department of Health expects to have updated numbers as early as Wednesday. (23:49)
  • Colfax confirmed that San Francisco remains on the state’s watch list, meaning the pause on reopening remains in place. (28:23)