It's Too Early to Tell When Scaled-Back Reopening Can Resume: SF Health Officials

Amid a recent spike in cases of COVID-19 in San Francisco and statewide, city officials on Tuesday said it's too early to tell when businesses that had been set to reopen a day ago can resume.

During a virtual roundtable, Department of Public Health Officer Dr. Tomas Aragon said as more data on the number of cases citywide over the last week comes in, public health officials will be able to potentially develop a new timeline next week for when businesses like hair and nail salons, barbershops, outdoor museums, tattoo parlors, massage establishments, outdoor bars and zoos can open their doors back up.

On Friday, Mayor London Breed announced those businesses wouldn't be able to reopen as planned due to an increase in cases, reporting 103 new cases on Thursday -- up from just 20 new cases on June 15.

“We'd been fortunate that our hospitalization census in general had been stable over time and had been decreasing, and this has really changed over the past few days," Aragon said. "While the hospitalizations have gone up sharply, our capacity right now is OK."

He said hospitalizations due to COVID-19 rose by 49 percent citywide within the last seven days.

Currently, there are 64 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19. Of those, five were transferred to San Francisco from Imperial County and 13 from San Quentin State Prison, which has experienced an outbreak amid inmates.

Additionally, the city has 35 percent of its acute care beds available, and 28 percent of its intensive care unit beds available. In order for the city to remain on track for reopening, the city must have at least 15 percent of acute care beds available and at least 20 percent of ICU beds.

So far, there have been 3,603 cases confirmed in the city, including 50 deaths.

"This past week we saw a sharp rise in cases," Aragon said. "We don't know if this is a one-time blip or if this is the tip of the iceberg and if we're going to have a rapid increase in cases and hospitalizations. It's too soon to tell.

“It's too early for us to know whether we're getting ourselves into a situation that's going to be hard to get out. And you see that happening in other counties," he said. "Once you have a lot of people infected, it's hard to turn that back."

Office of Economic and Workforce Development Director Joaquin Torres said while he was disappointed about the scaled-back reopening, as were many business owners, he added, "We made the right choice based on the data we had."

Torres said his office will continue working with the Department of Public Health on a future reopening date, and will be providing business owners enough time to plan ahead.

Businesses that opened on June 15, like restaurants with outdoor dining and indoor retail, remain open.

"The good news is, in terms of what's available, that nothing has been rolled back. That the outdoor activities that have been allowed thus far are still able to move forward right now unless we hear otherwise from our public health officials," he said.

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