San Francisco prepares for coronavirus

The city’s residents frequently travel to China

By Frederick H. Lowe


San Francisco Mayor London Breed

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Tuesday an emergency plan to strengthen the city’s preparedness to respond to the coronavirus because the global picture of the virus keeps changing.

Additionally, there is a high volume of travel between the city’s residents and mainland China, which is the center of the epidemic.

“So far, there are zero confirmed cased of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) in San Francisco, but the global picture is changing rapidly, and we need to step-up preparedness,” Mayor Breed said. “We see the virus spreading in new parts of the world every day, and we are taking the necessary steps to protect San Francisco from harm.”

The Northern California cities of San Francisco, Oakland and Hayward had a combined Chinese American population of 460,252 in 2019. Currently, the cities of New York, Newark, and Jersey City, have larger Chinese American populations. So do the Southern California cities of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Anaheim.

Early this week, The World Health Organization reported a total number of COVID-19 stood at more than 80,000 with 2705 deaths. Ninety-seven percent of the deaths have occurred in China. 

Some countries have gone so far as to ban all flights to and from China. Chinatowns in major cities like Chicago have become ghost towns because tourists fear contracting the virus. 

As of February 23, there have been 19 cases of COVID-19 in Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington, and Wisconsin. Twelve of the 14 cases were related to travel to China. 

Mayor Breed has ordered the city’s Departments of Public Health and Emergency Management to mobilize city resources, accelerate emergency planning, streamline staffing, and coordinate agencies throughout the city.

The San Francisco declaration is effective immediately for seven days, and it will be voted on by the Board of Supervisors on March 3.

San Francisco has been working to prevent COVID-19 and to implement containment efforts if city residents test positive for the virus. 

“Given the high volume of travel between San Francisco and mainland China, there is a growing likelihood that we will see cases COVID-19 eventually,” said Dr. Tomas Aragon, the city’s health commissioner.



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