SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco public health agencies announced on Thursday that they are extending The City's local stay-at-home order and travel quarantine because of the coronavirus surge and worries about ICU beds being available.
Both orders could have been lifted next week. And even though the state stay-at-home order could possibly be lifted by Jan. 7, the San Francisco health officials and city leaders said they don't expect the Bay Area to meet California's thresholds for lifting the order by that date.
But as of Thursday, Mayor London Breed and Dr. Grant Colfax said the travel quarantine and stay-at-home order will remain in place indefinitely. Officials said they will re-evaluate when to lift the orders after New Year's, likely in two weeks.
The travel quarantine requires people entering the city from outside the greater Bay Area to stay at home for 10 days.
"We have been proactive in putting the stay at home order and travel quarantine in place to protect San Franciscans and in the hopes that by acting quickly, we could flatten the curve and re-open faster," Breed said. "This seems to be working but we need more time to determine that we are moving in the right direction and that the December holidays don’t set us back. There are glimmers of hope and now is not the time to let up."
The extension to the travel quarantine order responds to the significant prevalence of the coronavirus throughout the United States as well as the need to reduce the exposure and isolate people who may be contagious in order to protect our region’s ability to provide intensive care for critically ill patients, public health officials said. The order also protects against the spread of a new variant of the virus detected recently in the United Kingdom, Colorado, and California.
Once California lifts its regional stay-at-home order, San Francisco leaders said they will reassess key health factors to determine if they support relaxing the current restrictions on businesses and activities and resuming the measured re-opening process.
One of those key factors is ICU bed availability and the COVID-19 case rates.
As of Wednesday, Bay Area’s ICU capacity hovered at approximately 7.5% and cases continued to climb regionally, indicating that it is unlikely the demand for ICU care will decline in the coming weeks, health officials and city leaders said.
"The steps we have taken together have served us well, but the fact remains that San Francisco is in the midst of its worst surge yet," Colfax said. "We must continue to take the preventative measures that we know slow the spread of the virus and save lives. Please continue to avoid gatherings, wear facial coverings, and keep your distance. We’ve crushed the curve before and can do it again."