SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Friday said that the city’s current coronavirus shelter-in-place order set to expire next week would most likely be extended “a few weeks or even a month.”
The statement came during the mayor’s daily update on San Francisco’s response to the COVID-19 emergency. The current shelter-in-place order is scheduled to expire on May 3.
“People are asking about this: ‘Will the public health order get extended?’ The likelihood of that is very likely and what that means is, y’know, another few weeks or even a month of asking you all to comply and to remain at home as you continue to follow the social distancing orders that we put forth,” said Mayor Breed.
San Francisco issued the nation’s first shelter in place order on March 16 along with Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, restricting all but essential activities.
While there have been points where the mayor has chastised residents for not complying with the order, San Franciscans have by and large obeyed the order. So far, San Francisco has 1,340 positive COVID-19 cases and a total of 22 deaths due to the virus.
Breed acknowledged that the nice weather expected during the coming weekend would be a temptation for outdoor activities, but requested that residents stay home and continue practicing physical and social distancing.
Mayor Breed also addressed the issue of personal protective equipment availability within the city, saying San Francisco has bought 15 million pieces of PPE for use by front-line essential health care personnel and others working essential jobs.
Mayor Breed said the city has been struggling to build up a reserve of personal protective equipment because their orders of supplies have been getting diverted to other countries and confiscated by FEMA.
“The fact that during the height of this pandemic, we’re still having a conversation about PPE, it really does blow my mind,” said an exasperated Breed.
As for the coronavirus case announced Thursday at the Division Circle Navigation Center in the Mission, subsequent tests are still pending and that facility is now empty.
“It will be reopened as a shelter for people experiencing homelessness who have tested positive for COVID-19 but do not require hospitalization,” explained Director of Homelessness & Supportive Housing Abigail Stewart-Kahn.
The thinning of the shelters, however, is contributing to another problem.
“You have a situation in the Tenderloin where you have 50 tents surrounding Civic Center Plaza, all packed back-to-back on the sidewalks,“ said Jennifer Friedenbach, head of the Coalition on Homelessness.
Homeless advocates and several city supervisors have called for sanctioned camping areas to clear sidewalks. It is an idea the city has considered, but not yet tried.
“Why is it that we can’t do it because we need staffing?” Friedenbach asked. “We’re OK with people being on the sidewalks without staffing? There’s no logical sense. Open up the parks, let people spread out.”
The city says it is still considering options and weighing resource considerations.
“Everything is on the table, and everything is being considered,” said Stewart-Kahn. “Right now, we are very focused on moving people who are unsheltered directly into hotel rooms, which is the safest place for them to be when they are vulnerable.”