Upsurge in staff COVID cases closes popular San Francisco restaurant

On a bustling Thursday night in San Francisco, the popular Zuni Café on Market Street is dark. The shades are drawn and a sign on the door lets customers know the restaurant is closed because of COVID among staff.

The notice reads, "We regretfully announce that Zuni will be closed Wednesday, November 30th - Sunday, December 4th. With an upsurge of Covid cases within our team members, we have decided to take preventive measures to prioritize the health and safety of our team, guests, and community. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding. We look forward to welcoming you back on Wednesday, December 7th."

COVID cases are on the rise in the Bay Area. Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at UCSF said immunity is waning and many people are not up-to-date on boosters.

"We are seeing an increase in cases which means we are seeing an increase in hospitalizations by more than 100 percent," said Chin-Hong. "At UCSF we had about 10 cases a day in the beginning of November. We are up to 40."

Still, Chin-Hong is not calling this a surge. The numbers are still far from what we saw in January when there were 150 cases a day.

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Doctor Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease doctor at UCSF, said she’s not seeing as much severe illness among patients.

Gandhi said, "What we’re seeing in terms of severe COVID pneumonia, the kind of thing that really scared us and that really caused so much illness the last two seasons, is that because of our high rates of immunity it is low now."

Doctors say there are four respiratory viruses circulating. COVID, flu, RSV, and the virus that causes the common cold. The COVID test positivity rate has increased to 8%, the highest it's been since August. 

"It’s definitely time to pay attention. That’s for sure," said Chin-Hong. "It’s kind of like, it’s raining viruses so you want to wear your umbrella."

He said it’s a good idea to wash hands and carry a mask. Dr. Gandhi said the best thing to do is stay home if you are sick. She also recommends ventilating indoor spaces during gatherings, and if you have a weakened immune system or are going to be around someone vulnerable, wear a mask.