SF health officials advise residents to avoid large gatherings to slow spread of coronavirus

San Francisco city leaders are advancing a set of recommendations to slow the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Among the recommendations, the city is urging those in vulnerable populations to avoid large public gatherings and for employers to limit non-essential travel, and the city is urging organizers of large public events, including concerts and sporting events to cancel.

The city's sf72.org- AlertSF notification has sent out a text message advising canceling non-essential community events for the next two weeks.  

The Sunday Streets event in the Mission District scheduled for Sunday, the Arbor Week eco fair and a tree planting kickoff scheduled for Saturday, and an American Lung Association stair climb fundraiser are among events in San Francisco this weekend that have been cancelled "out of an abundance of caution" due to the virus.

Events at Davies Symphony Hall scheduled for Saturday through March 20 have also been cancelled under an order from San Francisco Mayor London Breed that closes all War Memorial Performing Arts Center venues for two weeks.

"We regret having to make this decision but are following the official recommendation by San Francisco health officials to avoid large, non-essential gatherings," San Francisco Public Works announced Friday in a news release about the tree planting. "Safeguarding our communities and protecting public health is our top priority."

The annual Fight for Air Climb, a California benefit for the American Lung Association scheduled for Saturday in San Francisco, has also been called off.

"The health and well-being of Lung Association event participants, volunteers, staff and partners remains our top priority. We are especially sensitive to the health of those with lung disease who may have planned to attend our Climb." said Carrie Nash, executive director of the American Lung Association - San Francisco.

City leaders said as of Friday afternoon there were no new confirmed cases in the city, beyond the man in his 90s and woman in her 40s who were confirmed Thursday. KTVU has confirmed one of those patients is receiving care Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

FBI San Francisco Division confirmed Friday evening an employee there has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The employee works in a small satellite office. The seven offices or resident agencies are: Concord, Eureka/Fortuna, Monterey Bay, Oakland, Palo Alto, San Jose and Santa Rosa. FBI officials said the other employees at that office have returned to their homes until further notice. Everyone known to have been in contact with the infected employee has been notified of possible exposure. 

Local school officials also said they are looking to update families about Lowell High School. Lowell was closed Friday, as school officials said staff members were undertaking an enhanced cleaning.

No word of any more students impacted by COVID-19, and no word if the one child who has a family member who tested positive has shown any symptoms.

The school's weekend events are canceled and the district is saying it will notify families if the school will reopen Monday.

In the Financial District, at least one landlord at a major property is saying a worker in the building is self-quarantining after possible contact with someone who has coronavirus. Building owners said they will be giving the building a thorough cleaning.

San Francisco's district attorney toured some of the city's Chinese American-owned businesses talking with local merchants about a recent uptick in racist incidents and discrimination.

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"We are committed to following up on any reports we get of criminal activity we get related to people's country of origin or perceived health status," said San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

Some business leaders say they've experienced a major drop in business as concerns about the virus swirl.

The message from merchants: follow hygiene guidelines laid out by the health department, and don't avoid Chinatown or any one particular part of the city.

"It's open for business, San Francisco is open for business," said Larry Yee from the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. "But, you've got to take your precautions. Just hoping everyone stays calm."

SFMTA posted new photos to its social media showing crews cleaning Muni buses and trains. The city is now asking those looking for updates about the progress of COVID-19 in the city to text: COVID19SF to 888-777. 

Bay City News contributed to this report.