San Francisco Under Lockdown as of March 17
March 17, 2020
From Dr. Ahvie Herskowitz
As of 12:01 am Tuesday, March 17, 2020, residents of San Francisco are officially under orders to stay in their homes except for essential needs due to the growing Coronavirus outbreak. San Francisco’s Mayor, London Breed, confirmed the “shelter in place” orders for San Francisco today at a press conference. Six Bay Area Counties, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, and San Mateo Counties are also issuing similar orders. You can read the full announcement here.
Do we really need a “lock-down” in the Bay Area?
Studying the models, I am surprised by the depth of the “shelter in place” strategy that Mayor Breed announced today, based on the relatively low numbers in San Francisco (Approximately 40 cases). However, with Santa Clara County passing 100 cases, this is likely one of the drivers of the decision. Furthermore, we know that the actual number of people infected with COVID19 in the Bay Area is likely much higher than the number of confirmed positive cases currently being reported.
As compared to New York State with approximately 950 cases (New York City has ~463 cases) and Washington State with approximately 769 cases (King County including Seattle has ~420 cases), these lower case numbers in California of approximately 490 cases (San Francisco has ~ 40 cases) do not convey the real driver to lockdown – a rise in ICU hospitalizations. Our nurses have not informed us of new ICU admissions in SF, so perhaps we, in the San Francisco Bay area will lead on social distancing, pre-emptively.
The “shelter in place” order comes immediately after federal officials and President Trump issued a nationwide call for self-isolation over the next 15 days. All Americans are urged to stay home except for essential needs and to avoid groups of more than 10 people.
Mayor London Breed’s twitter post on March 16, 2020 states: “Effective at midnight, San Francisco will require people to stay home except for essentials needs. Necessary government functions & essential stores will remain open. These steps are based on the advice of public health experts to slow the spread of COVID19.”
Essential government services such as police, fire, public transit, and sanitation will continue. Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and gas stations will remain open. Restaurants will also remain open but for take-out only. Bars, gyms, and other non-essential stores are ordered to remain closed after midnight tonight.
So, can I leave my house?
According to the official orders, people are prohibited from leaving their homes “except to meet basic needs, including visiting the doctor, or buying groceries or medicine.” Under the “shelter in place” order, you are permitted to be outdoors, such as taking a walk, walking your dog, or exercise. However, officials are urging you to stay six feet away from other people.
These local orders will be in effect until at least Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Mayor Breed said that this date could be amended, lengthened, or shortened as new information regarding the COVID-19 outbreak in California is received.
Confirmed COVID19 Cases by County in California
* Only counties with more than five cases shown here.
UPDATED ON: 3.16.2020 1:27 pm PST
About Ahvie Herskowitz, MD
Dr. Herskowitz’s extensive training includes a medical degree from The Albert Einstein College of Medicine, residencies in Anatomic Pathology and Internal Medicine, and Fellowship training in Cardiology at The Johns Hopkins Medical Center. During his 12 years at Johns Hopkins, he became Associate Professor of Medicine and Immunology and Molecular Microbiology and led a research team in the study of molecular and immunological mechanisms of inflammation, autoimmunity, ischemia, heart transplantation rejection and congestive heart failure.
Dr. Herskowitz’s latest academic appointment was as Clinical Professor of Medicine at UC San Francisco. To learn more about Dr. Herskowitz, you can read it bio here.
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