SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Health officials in San Francisco on Thursday morning announced the city’s first two confirmed cases of coronavirus infection that were likely caught through community transmission.
The announcement came during a Thursday morning press conference with Mayor London Breed and San Francisco Department of Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax.
The cases were first reported to the San Francisco Department of Health earlier Thursday morning, according to Colfax.
The two coronavirus patients are being treated in isolation at separate hospitals in San Francisco. The cases are unrelated and neither person has a history of travel to coronavirus hot spots or contact with people known to be infected with the coronavirus, Colfax said.
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“These cases are like other cases we are seeing and are indicative of community transmission,” said Colfax.
One patient is a man in his 90’s who is in serious condition, in part due to underlying health issues. The second patient is a woman in her 40’s who is in fair condition.
“All appropriate precautions for the patients, visitors and hospital staff are being taken,” Dr. Colfax said. “The health department has informed the patients’ families this morning and is investigating the patients’ history and contacts to protect the health of individuals and help slow the spread of the virus in the community.”
Later Thursday afternoon, Lowell High School announced that the campus would be closed due to a student’s exposure to coronavirus, eventually confirming that the younger patient in her 40s was the mother of the student who had been exposed.
Colfax and Mayor Breed both spoke about a rise in xenophobia focused on the Asian community that has accompanied the spread of the coronavirus and discouraged any discrimination against any group due to COVID-19 concerns.
“This disease does not discriminate,” said Breed. “We know that when there is a stigma attached to a particular group of people, especially around such an important health issue, it’s less likely that people will be willing to come forward.”
The press conference also addressed the situation with the Grand Princess, the cruise ship currently off the coast of California with possible coronavirus cases.
Mary Ellen Carroll, the San Francisco Director of the Department of Emergency Management, said 35 of those aboard had shown flu-like symptoms during the 15-day cruise.
“Many of those people have recovered and are no longer showing flu-like symptoms,” she said. “Once we have results from the (coronavirus) tests (that will be run Thursday), the CDC and the state will determine the most appropriate location for the ship to berth. That location needs to provide for the safety of the surrounding community as well as the passengers.”
“The CDC and the state are considering a number of locations including San Francisco,” she added.
The mayor also announced that the city’s Emergency Operations Center has been activated and assured residents that city officials were prepared to deal with the coronavirus in San Francisco.