Omicron: COVID Infection Rate Spikes in San Francisco

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A federal and state promise to deliver millions of rapid COVID test kits cannot happen fast enough in San Francisco, where health officials said the infection rate has more than doubled this week.

The San Francisco Public Health Department said it is still working on the process of receiving then distributing the rapid COVID test kits. There is no clear timetable on whether the kits will arrive before the holiday weekend.

Until then, the community is doing what it can to slow the spread.

Yuka Ioroi and her husband run the popular Cassava restaurant on Balboa Street in San Francisco. They have decided to require customers who want to dine inside they not only need to be vaccinated, but show proof of a booster shot.

"Overwhelmingly the majority of our clientele align with out safety ideas," Ioroi said. "The only kind of hate comments and that kind of thing is only online."

UCSF Dr. Monica Ghandi discusses a surge in Omicron COVID-19 cases ahead of the holidays and how people can protect themselves.

Customers who dined in on Wednesday said the booster policy made all the difference.

"Recently we've actually stopped eating indoors because we're worried about the Omicron variant," customer Rachel Mack said. "But because they're requiring boosters at the restaurant, we felt more comfortable eating here today indoors."

San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney applauds the initiative, but said the city's working class communities needs more -- free rapid test kits and to reopen testing sites closed when the case rates went down.

"Well we need them back now," Haney said. "We need them back and we need them expanded. And we need the rapid, immediate self tests to make sure people are protected during what is a very vulnerable time when it comes to this virus in the holiday season."

The San Francisco public health officer said much of the promised federal and state supplies will be accessible to the public directly, but are still working out their own timetable.

"And any tests or kits that come to us through the federal government or state, we will in turn work with our community partners and the community to make sure that those get in the hands of the people of San Francisco who may not be able to afford them," San Francisco Public Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip said.

The Public Health Department emphasizes, even as we wait for that federal and state assistance, there are still many sites offering testing and vaccinations. The health officer also said not to forget to take those basic precautions during holiday gatherings of masks and social distancing.

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