San Jose Mercury News, April 15, 2020
By Evan Webeck
City announces plans for contact tracing as it becomes 2nd in Bay Area to cross 1,000 cases
San Francisco on Wednesday became the second county in the Bay Area to report its thousandth confirmed case of COVID-19, as well as two more casualties from the deadly disease. Health officials reported 26 new cases — the same number as neighboring San Mateo County on Wednesday — bringing the city’s total to 1,013. Two more San Franciscans succumbed to the virus, bringing the city’s death toll to 17. Only Santa Clara County has more confirmed cases, but San Francisco has reported fewer fatalities than Santa Clara (60), Alameda (23) and San Mateo (21). The city had not yet updated its dashboard with information on hospitalizations or demographics, but it did report that it conducted its 9,000th test Tuesday. Labs in the city have conducted more than 400 tests per day on five of the past six weekdays, with about 11% coming back positive. “As much as San Francisco has been a model for flattening the curve, the curve has not complete gone away,” Mayor London Breed told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
Officials announced plans for extensive contact tracing — a key step to lifting shelter-in-place orders — with a partnership between the city, its health department, UCSF and a technology company working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop digital contact tracing. A voluntary program will allow health workers connect remotely with anyone who has tested positive, who will be able to communicate their symptoms via text for 14 days. Dr. Grant Colfax, the city’s health officer, described the need for a “fast-moving, comprehensive system to track cases and support people to prevent further spread as much as possible as we ultimately move out of shelter in place into a new phase of fighting the pandemic.” San Francisco’s homeless population accounts for about a tenth of the known cases in the city. An outbreak at its largest shelter had grown to 92 cases among residents and 10 among staff in the latest update provided Wednesday. All of the some 340 residents living at the Multi-Service Center South have been relocated into some of the 2,000 hotel rooms acquired by the city. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved an emergency measure that requires the city to secure about 6,000 more accommodations by April 26, enough to house nearly everyone in San Francisco’s shelters and on its streets.
At Laguna Honda Hospital, where about 750 long-term care patients live, officials confirmed one more case among the staff. Three residents and 11 staff members have tested positive so far, and officials expect that number to continue to grow. Across California, the state approached 26,000 confirmed cases on Wednesday. Gov. Gavin Newsom called Tuesday the state’s deadliest day yet, with COVID-19 taking the lives of 71 Californians. Statewide, the death toll was at 775 Tuesday evening. The two new fatalities in San Francisco push the Bay Area to 150, according to data compiled by this news organization.