San Francisco, one of the nation’s first cities to fully shut down and one of the slowest to reopen, joined California’s coronavirus watch list on Friday, and the mayor expressed frustration that people are attending social gatherings against health officials’ advice.
Mayor London Breed said a city disaster services worker had to quarantine after the worker’s roommate went on a camping trip with more than a dozen friends, came back sick and eventually tested positive for the virus. She also attributed the rise in cases to people returning to work.
“Can you wear a mask the whole time? Can you be socially distant? Can you wash your hands often? If you can’t, you’re not only risking your health and the health of others, but you’re also further pushing back the date when our city can open because we’re not reopening until we get this under control,” she said.
“What I’m afraid of is the complacency. People are tired of the virus, but the virus is not tired of us,” Breed said.
More than 30 of California’s 58 counties are now on the watch list, which looks at hospitalizations and virus transmissions, as well as hospital capacity.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced any county on the watch list can’t resume in-person learning when schools reopen next month, meaning most California students will again learn digitally. New state guidelines say districts can’t reopen classrooms until a county is off the watch list for 14 days, a threshold major counties aren’t likely to meet soon.
The guidelines came as California reported its third-highest daily total of additional coronavirus cases, with nearly 10,000 cases and 130 deaths. That followed a week where daily case numbers fluctuated significantly. Over the past two weeks, more than 1,200 people have died from the virus.
In San Francisco, public health director Dr. Grant Colfax said the average age of people hospitalized with COVID-19 at San Francisco General Hospital is 41. He’s alarmed it took more than a month for the number of reported cases to climb from 2,000 to 3,000 — but it has taken 13 days for the count to go from 4,000 to nearly 5,000.
Indoor malls will close Monday, and Colfax warned authorities are prepared to backtrack even more.
But there was a potentially hopeful sign: The seven-day rate of positive cases was down slightly, to 7.1%, compared with the 14-day average. California tested more than 120,000 people per day during most of the past week.
“It’s encouraging to see,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, though he noted the state is facing some delays in getting test results back.
He said California is entering the time period where it may start to see the effects of a fresh round of business closures, including bars and restaurants for dining-in services. Throughout May and June, California reopened much of its shuttered economy, with people again shopping in stores and dining out. But Newsom began to shut many businesses down again this summer as positive case rates and hospitalizations rose.
“As soon as we feel confident in that trend and you see all the numbers start to stabilize, we’ll credit some of the moves made over the last few weeks,” Ghaly said.
Newsom urged caution in interpreting the numbers, saying the rate of positive cases can “fluctuate significantly.”
In Los Angeles, the state’s largest county, the positive rate of cases sat at 9%, and hospitalizations continued to rise.
The county, which has a quarter of the state’s population of 40 million, reported nearly 2,300 additional cases and 62 new deaths and the rate of hospitalization rose even among younger people. Those between 18 and 40 years old were being hospitalized “at a higher rate than seen at any point in this pandemic,” a county Department of Public Health statement said.
The department also reported that 48 people working at the SoFi stadium site in Inglewood, an NFL stadium under construction, tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, just as the $5-billion project comes into its final stages, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Ronayne reported from Sacramento. Associated Press writer Cuneyt Dil in Sacramento contributed to the report.