San Francisco Mayor London Breed said Friday that it was “very likely” city officials would extend the order for residents to shelter in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order is set to expire May 3, meaning an extension is likely to come next week. Counties across the Bay Area have so far worked largely in tandem — handing down similar health orders and shelter-in-place mandates to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus regionally.
“What that means is another few weeks or even a month of asking you all to comply and to remain at home and to continue to follow the social distancing orders that we put forth,” she said Friday at a news conference.
San Francisco recorded 1,340 cases of COVID-19 as of Friday afternoon, with a total of 22 deaths. Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said 134 of people with confirmed cases — 10% of the total number — are either homeless or live in SROs.
Health officers from across the Bay Area have been meeting to work out the details of shelter-in-place extensions, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Candace Andersen said Friday.
“They anticipate coming out with an announcement next week as to what the next health order will look like,” she said. “They’re being very close to the vest because they’re still negotiating what these terms are going to be,” though she said she told constituents this week not to expect any “wholesale changes” from the existing orders.
In an online question-and-answer session Friday, Santa Clara Public Health Director Dr. Sara Cody didn’t speculate how long the shelter-in-place orders might last, but said that adopting any solution that protects the greatest number of people “means we are not going to return to our normal way for a very long time.”
Breed also expressed frustration at logistical issues that have hampered the city’s ability to procure essential personal protective equipment, like gloves, gowns and surgical masks, for frontline health care workers treating COVID-19 patients.
So far, the city has purchased about 15 million individual pieces of protective equipment and has benefited from donations by private companies, Breed said.
But she said the city continues to face challenges, some of which she attributed to “an uncoordinated response from our federal government” that has allowed for profiteering by bad actors to disrupt a complicated global supply chain.
She described some orders “being relocated by suppliers in China,” and a shipment of isolation gowns on their way to San Francisco being unexpectedly diverted to France. Across the country, cities and health-care providers have even complained about the federal government seizing or rerouting shipments of protective equipment without warning or a clear rationale.
“We’ve had situations where things we’ve ordered that have gone through customers have been diverted by (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) to other locations,” Breed said.
“At the height of this pandemic, we’re still having a conversation about (personal protective equipment) — it really does blow my mind. There is nothing that has been more frustrating,” Breed said.
City Administrator Naomi Kelly, who oversees San Francisco’s contracting and purchasing agencies, said officials have had to expend valuable time vetting suppliers and resellers to ensure the city is purchasing quality, medical-grade products.
In some cases, suppliers have resold equipment San Francisco purchased to higher bidders, and there is concern about whether equipment brokers are advertising even exists. The city has been flagging bad actors and instances of price gouging to a Department of Justice task force, Kelly said.
New inspection laws passed on April 10 by the Chinese government for medical-grade personal protective equipment have also resulted in “major delays” for San Francisco, she said.
“We’re lucky we have the resources to do this vetting and to make purchases when we’re able to do so,” Kelly said.