Mar 19, 2020
San Francisco Mayor London Breed Coronavirus Briefing Transcript
San Francisco mayor London Breed and other San Francisco public officials gave an update briefing on the coronavirus or COVID-19. Read the full transcript right here.
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Dr. Grant Colfax: (04:08)
Good morning. I’m Dr. Grant Colfax, director of health. I would like to thank Mayor Breed for her leadership in aggressively preparing for this epidemic. San Francisco is in the vanguard of taking action early and continuously to respond to this rapidly resolving situation. I also want to thank Director Mary Ellen Carroll for her partnership in leading the emergency response, and all of the city departments who are coming together to work together to do everything we can to support San Franciscans. Most of all, I want to thank the members of the San Francisco community, who are my public health heroes, and doing everything they can. Thank you all for coming here today and supporting San Francisco’s efforts to slow down the spread of the coronavirus and save lives. In concert with other barrier counties, we are continuing to move aggressively to slow the spread, and it’s true that every hour counts. We need everyone to take action to protect our community and particularly, our most vulnerable populations.
Dr. Grant Colfax: (05:35)
The regional order to shelter in place is brand-new for our community and the Bay Area is the first place in the country to take such an aggressive approach. I know that San Franciscans want to do the right thing, and we are already seeing big differences in peoples’ behavior as they adjust to these new rules and these new times. I am so thankful, we are so thankful, for everyone’s participation and care for one another. To review, all San Franciscans must stay home as much as possible and only leave for essential activities, like getting food and medicine. Even then, they and you should stay at least six feet away from others. It is okay to go outside to walk your dog, go for walk, run or hike, alone or with someone else from your household. You can also go outside with someone else, as long as you stay six feet apart. We know that people need exercise and fresh air, and there’s a way to do that within the confines of this order.
Dr. Grant Colfax: (06:53)
For people who are over the age of 60 and those with chronic health conditions, or especially those who are currently sick, please stay home altogether. We know that staying at home is disruptive, it has to be. The virus thrives under normal conditions. We encourage people to learn more about the order by referring to the frequently asked questions, as Director Carroll mentioned at SF.gov. We are preparing our health system and our city functions for a potential surge in coronavirus patients and we hope that it will be diminished by our aggressive efforts to slow the spread of the virus. Put it simply, we need as much time as possible to be as prepared as possible. I would especially like to thank the frontline workers who continue to care for our community members, even during this health emergency, including and especially in healthcare settings, and our first-responders who are engaging with people at risk for this virus on the streets and other places every day.
Dr. Grant Colfax: (08:09)
To ensure that hospitals and healthcare facilities will have as much capacity as possible in the case when the surge of coronavirus occurs, the health officer has issued an order, effective yesterday, prohibiting routing procedures and elective surgeries. These things can wait and they must wait. Now, we are decompressing the healthcare system as much as possible. I remind everyone, please do not go to the emergency room or an urgent care center unless you have a true life-threatening emergency. Contact your healthcare provider by phone, use telemedicine, get the information anywhere else that you can. Please do not go to the healthcare emergency room or urgent care, those places desperately need to be saved for the people who are truly ill and need the most. The mayor’s also use the power of the local emergency declaration she made on February 25th, to order a streamlining of the hiring process for nurses in our public health system.
Dr. Grant Colfax: (09:26)
We are bringing on scores of new nurses in as soon as 10 days, and I was just talking with our HR people and they told me this morning that we already have 70 new nurses hired, and we’d expect scores more this weekend and in the near future. We are having a job fair this weekend to hire nurses on the spot. Today, we have 70 confirmed cased of COVID-19, coronavirus, in San Francisco, and that number is rising and will continue to rise. We know that the virus is here in our community and yet, we still must fight aggressively to interrupt it by drastically reducing the chances it has to jump from person to person. This remains a rapidly evolving situation, and as we have learned more, we have followed data, science, and facts, and our interventions have escalated. We greatly, I greatly, appreciate the way that San Francisco is pulling together to follow the new rules and to help prepare and protect our most vulnerable populations, our healthcare workers, and our health system.
Dr. Grant Colfax: (10:43)
Everyone can and must do our part. I must say, I’m so impressed by our emergency operation center. It is a hive, with the bee six feet apart. It is a hive of well-organized activity with multiple city organizations coming together in pursuit of one shared goal, to protect our community and to slow the spread of the coronavirus. It takes every sector, health, law enforcement, law, infrastructure, social services, transportation, and services for those experiencing homelessness. I am inspired to see this incredible city, its essential workers, and the services step up and take on this challenge we are facing together. Thank you.
London Breed: (11:37)
Thank you, Dr. Colfax. I just wanted to take this opportunity to introduce the director of the Department of Human Resources, Trent Rhorer, who is working on the plan to support many of our vulnerable populations who live in congregate settings, so that we are prepared, if necessary, to not only provide shelter in place, access for those particular populations, but an overall plan. Many people have asked about the challenges with our homeless population, we have not forgotten that and we are continuing to work on that issue. So, I want Trent to provide us with an update.
Trent Rhorer: (12:26)
Thank you, Mayor Breed. I’m Trent Rhorer, I’m the city’s director of the Human Services Agency. We’re the agency tasked with providing care and shelter in this pandemic for vulnerable populations. Thanks to the mayor’s leadership and the leadership and guidance from Dr. Colfax, we activated our department’s command center last Monday, so 11 days ago, to prepare for this using the best data that the Department of Public Health had at the time. We were charged with identifying 3,500 hotel rooms to be able to use for isolation for individuals whose current housing situation does not allow them to quarantine on their own. So, who is this? This is the 19,000 or so individuals who live in single-room occupancy hotel room where they are community bathrooms and community kitchens, and impossible for those persons to isolate alone. Of course, it’s our homeless population, both who are residing in our homeless shelters, as well as homeless who are on the streets.
Trent Rhorer: (13:34)
We quickly responded to that and have been working to secure those rooms. We did secure our first lease yesterday and moved the first people in this morning. Those first people were homeless individuals who were tested in the hospital, but are not showing signs that need them to be hospitalized. So, we moved them from the hospitals to that particular hotel. This will be a very common occurrence. We don’t want people who do not need to be hospitalized to be there, simply because they can’t isolate. This is why we’re bringing the hotels online. We have identified probably, we’re at about 500 now, a little over 500, that we hope to have secured through lease and online, staff with the appropriate personnel by the end of the week or this weekend. We think that is enough to manage the current projected surge. Also, thank you to the mayor for speaking with the hotel counsel membership yesterday morning. Because of her leadership, as well as Dr. Colfax and the chancier of UCSF as well, and myself, the hotel counsel and the large hotels in San Francisco have been very responsive.
Trent Rhorer: (14:53)
We have among those hotels, well over 2,000 rooms of hotels who have expressed interest. The next phase will be our Health and Human Services teams assessing the suitability of those hotels for the population that needs to be quarantined. The second group of individuals that we want to provide housing for, or hotel rooms, are of course, are first-responders. We don’t want our healthcare workers who are on the front lines to go home, potentially infect others, be infected in their communities and not be able to work. So, we are standing up hotels for them as well, and those hotels from the hotel counsel will be suitable for them as well. Those rooms would actually be an addition to the 3,500 we have for those who need to be quarantined. The last housing shelter effort, of course, the vulnerable population who are on our streets, as well as populations in our existing shelter system. Per the CDC and State Department of Health’s guidance, as well as our local Department of Public Health, we need to create social distancing within our homeless shelters.
Trent Rhorer: (16:03)
Trent Rhorer: (16:03)
… we need to create social distancing within our homeless shelters. We have about 2,000 single adults in our shelter systems and navigation center right now. We are going to be reducing capacity on our existing system and moving them to shelters that we will pop up in locations throughout San Francisco. In addition, we will be deploying our outreach teams on the streets to identify vulnerable populations, whether it’s age or underlying health conditions or both, to move into those congregate environments as well.
Trent Rhorer: (16:33)
Those shelters that we pop up will be staffed by the appropriate personnel who will be able to quickly identify people who are showing symptoms to be able to remove them and move towards isolation. We are currently, I guess fortunately that we’re in the shelter in place, stay at home mode, there are a lot of large facilities that will be available to us. So we are assessing those sites now, figuring out how to lay them out per the health standards, securing staffing as well as of course food provision and other services.
Trent Rhorer: (17:10)
We envision standing up probably about 2,500 rooms. This would be about, excuse me, 2,500 spaces in shelter. 1,500 of them will be to people who are currently in shelter and will just be moved and then another 1,000 for the vulnerable populations we identify on the street. Our system that we’ve developed is nimble enough to be able to expand should that need arise. My direction to them has been find as many large spaces as possible. Do not limit yourselves to capacity of 2,500, because we may need more. I’ll be happy to address questions at the end of this. Thanks.
London Breed: (17:53)
Thank you, Trent. And the Board of Supervisors has been really an incredible partner in this effort. And in particular, there are members of the Board of Supervisors that are here with us today including a supervisor, Aaron Peskin as well as supervisor Ahsha Safai, and at this time I want to ask supervisor Peskin to say a few words.
Aaron Peskin: (18:18)
Thank you, Mayor Breed. As the mayor just said, we are here on a full-time presence. The Board of Supervisors, we are all United. We are very disciplined. We are extremely focused and we are working very well together. I am very proud of the leadership and employees of the City and County of San Francisco and together we are going to flatten this curve.
London Breed: (18:44)
Thank you, supervisor Peskin. And I just also wanted to ask Police Chief Bill Scott to provide an update on what happened in the city yesterday. I know that we have put this order into place and the folks that have been really on the front lines in terms of helping to implement the shelter in place order has been the San Francisco Police Department and I wanted Chief Scott to provide an update.
Chief Bill Scott: (19:10)
Thank you, Mayor Breed. As of yesterday, the San Francisco Police Department continued our efforts to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. And as we’ve stated before, our primary mission is to have compassion, common sense and voluntary compliance. And if all else fails, we do have a legal order where we can enforce. I’m happy to say at this point we have not had to enforce. And I know that there have been sporadic sightings of people holding hands and that type of thing in the city, but I want to make it clear that we are doing everything that we can to message to people, to educate the people that we come in contact with, to practice social distancing as laid out in the health order. This is a tremendous disruption to everybody’s lives and we get that and we understand that. And so the education is key.
Chief Bill Scott: (20:13)
We started doing bar checks the minute the order went into effect, and that was midnight on the 17th of March. Monday night, Tuesday morning, our officers assigned to patrol under the leadership of Assistant Chief Michael Redmond and Deputy Chief Greg McEachern, were tasked with going to the bars and restaurants in their respective districts to ensure that we had compliance with this order. And we were very pleased that even prior to midnight, most of the restaurants and bars had already began to shut down. So we did not have to enforce. We’ve seen an overall tremendous response from the people in San Francisco and we appreciate that. As far as our workforce, as was stated, our first responders and our police officers, we started early on because of the leadership of our mayor and our public health director. We tried to get out in front of this starting in January. We started aggressive messaging on the basics, washing hands, making sure that our officers did everything possible not to spread this virus.
Chief Bill Scott: (21:19)
And we believe that that was key in not impacting our workforce. At this point, we have not had any major impacts on our workforce. We’re telecommuting where at all possible. We’ve canceled all training. Our officers that are assigned to administrative functions are in uniform. Right now, most of those officers, or many of those officers are working the streets to supplement patrol. Our Academy staff right now is working the Civic Center UN Plaza area in the downtown area, walking foot beats. We want the public to not have to worry about public safety. There’s enough things to worry about. We don’t want the public to worry about crime. So we’re not saying that crime will not exist, but we’re going to do everything we can to not make that be the worry. Our officers will be out there in numbers.
Chief Bill Scott: (22:10)
Many of you have seen them, the police cars with the lights on, officers working foot beats and that will continue. We don’t know how long this is going to last, but we want to do our part to make sure that we do everything that we can as police officers to prevent the spread of this virus. And again, I want to, I can’t emphasize enough how important the leadership standing behind me, starting with the mayor, was on allowing us to get in front of this. And that’s been key I think in getting the compliance that we’ve gotten this far. So thank you, mayor. Thank you. Mary Ellen Carol. Thank you Dr. Colfax. Supervisor Peskin and the city leadership and all the department heads. Thank you.
London Breed: (22:49)
Thank you, Chief. And just before I open it up to questions, I just want to take this opportunity because I really thought that we were already past the xenophobia that has existed since the beginning of learning of the Coronavirus and its origin. It is very unfortunate that this continues to be an issue and it is offensive not only to our Chinese community here in San Francisco, it’s offensive to our city as a whole where we pride ourselves on our diversity. We know that this disease is not discriminating against someone based on race. We know that people who are being diagnosed are of all races and backgrounds. And so the longer we perpetuate this divisiveness, this racism, the words that continue to allow for the focus to be on that particular issue, the lest we are able to deal with this together.
London Breed: (23:45)
This is a time not for divisiveness, it is a time for us to come together and to support the residents of our city and not make people feel excluded. So, sadly, this continues to be a problem where the President continues to stand by his messaging around his labeling of the Coronavirus and we want to make it clear that that is not something that’s acceptable or tolerated here in San Francisco. So I want to thank you all again for being here today and we know that as this situation continues to evolve, we will do everything we can to update you and provide you with the most accurate information. And again, making a decision to shelter in place is not one that was taken lightly. It was taken at the direction of some of the most incredible public health experts anywhere in the world. And we will get through this if we comply, if we in some cases sacrifice clearly to get to a better place.
London Breed: (24:56)
None of us wants to be in this situation right now, but we will get over it if we continue to work together and comply with the order and do our part. So, thank you to all the folks in our city who have done a tremendous job in helping us to keep the streets clear, and do what you can to support your households and your neighbors. Thank you to the leadership of the city and the dedicated city employees who show up not only here at the emergency operation center, but the people who are showing up to our police stations, our fire stations, our hospitals, the dedicated folks who are going to help get us through this crisis. So with that, I’m happy to open it up to any questions.
London Breed: (25:41)
Mayor, I have two questions. One for Dr. Colfax, one for Chief Scott. First, we’ve seen a surge in the number of those who have tested positive for Coronavirus. I’m wondering if that is because we’re seeing a lack of recollection of what’s going on [inaudible 00:25:59], people who have already been infected and we’re getting a better view of what that looks like? And also to Chief Scott, after Dr. Colfax is done, when will your officers start stepping in? As we have seen people congregating in areas like the workout area on [inaudible 00:26:14] and people have called us concerned about those people congregating, running back out. So I’m wondering when it switches over to telling small groups like that or ad hoc groups like that, that it’s time for them to separate out?
Dr. Colfax: (26:27)
So, going to your first question. We are, more testing is available now, so we will be getting more diagnoses. So that’s one of the key lessons learned in this next phase of the epidemic. The other thing that we need to be looking at is the seriousness of the cases, right? So the acuity in the illness, that’s why, as I taught for preparing for the surge, that we think is coming relatively soon, but the number of cases, it’s also about bending the curve, right? So while the number of cases will increase, we want to keep that rate as low as possible to give us as much time as possible to better prepare for the most sick, who are the most in need of medical treatment.
Dr. Colfax: (27:11)
I would go back to reinforcing that 80%, from the data we have now, 80% of people who get coronavirus have mild to moderate symptoms, do not need a hospitalization, do not need intensive care. All this work is really focused necessarily on preparing, especially for those vulnerable populations. And then with our healthcare workforce, we need our healthcare workforce to stay as healthy as possible to protect them and our first responders so that we can optimize our response, if and when the surge does happen. Thank you.
Chief Bill Scott: (27:51)
So Christian, to your question, that actually has already started. We put in a request to the emergency operation center, the logistics section, we the San Francisco Police Department, to have our disaster service workers assist with that messaging and that education piece. So as of today, my understanding is that has happened to assist the San Francisco Police Department officers with that. So a couple of things. If you see that, and we have observed it, our officers have observed that type of behavior.
Chief Bill Scott: (28:20)
One of the struggles initially was in the UN Plaza area. There were service providers that were doing good things, giving out food, but it caused lines and social distancing problems. And our officers would called in immediately to thin people out. And again, I want to, we have to balance common sense, civil liberties, with the necessity to stop the spread of this virus. So yeah, there will be a lot of education, if in the event that we keep having to go back to the same group of people or same people, we’ve worked with the city attorney on a tight protocol on when to enforce.
Chief Bill Scott: (28:57)
And that enforcement can be a citation, it could be an arrest, and if it’s a continuing offense, if the same person is arrested over and over again, which I don’t anticipate. I mean, by and large people have been very, very supportive and compliant. But if that happens and it’s a continuing offense, that person can be taken to jail. So this has impacted the entire criminal justice system. So, it’s really important that everybody understands that this is unprecedented.
Chief Bill Scott: (29:24)
The courts have slowed down. Our County Sheriff has had to make adjustments. So the police department is a part of a larger criminal justice system that we’ve all had to adjust. I want to ensure everybody, we still are enforcing the law. This is not a free for all where people just get to come in our city and do whatever they please, the law will be enforced, but we will have some discretion on who we actually put handcuffs on and take to jail, because we don’t want to spread the virus in that manner. So we’re going to be smart about it. We’ve instructed our supervisors on what to do, what to look for, and we’re going to be smart about it. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (30:02)
Chief Scott, actually while you’re up there, and on top of that question, beyond just individuals, I know you said the first night of it, you were enforcing businesses. I personally got numerous reports businesses who have shut down, but their competition hasn’t, I’ve heard about businesses in the Castro that are non-essential, that are still up and running. And you said you haven’t had to enforce that. But, we’re hearing anecdotally that there’s all sorts of issues with non-essential business that are being maintained their business hours. Are you doing more of that today? Are you walking into businesses, telling them to close their doors? How is that working?
Chief Bill Scott: (30:36)
Yeah, if we find out about it, we definitely will respond. Now, there are thousands of businesses in the city, so we only have so many officers work in the beats. We’re asking the community to comply. If community members see it, they can call 3-1-1, they can report it and we can respond. We can’t address what we don’t know about. So our officers are out, I can guarantee you that. And they’re doing the checks.
Chief Bill Scott: (31:01)
But there are thousands of businesses in the streets. So, this is unprecedented and I think we all have to kind of take a step back and really understand the magnitude of this. And people when they see this, call us, we have a whole infrastructure in the city set up, and I know they like to call the media and that’s a good thing, because it raises awareness. But, they also need to call us. Because we will address it and we’ll address it appropriately.
London Breed: (31:28)
I just want to add to that, because it’s not just about enforcement. We had gotten information, and this is a part of this emergency operation center. We received information that there were other businesses open in other parts of the community, and we have people who may not have been able to speak English or understood the order. And so we have people who speak multiple languages who are doing the outreach to those businesses and to make sure that they understand that they will need to close as a result of this order. And so that’s a part of what this emergency operation center has-
London Breed: (32:03)
Order and so that’s a part of what this emergency operation center has been doing. It’s not just about police enforcement, it’s also about outreach. And as I said before, not everyone is watching the news. Not everyone is on social media. Not everyone has access to the internet and not everyone is familiar with 311, so we have to be considerate when we are trying to get everyone in San Francisco to comply. We don’t want to be upset that people remain open. What we want to do is find out if they even know that the order exists in the first place and provide them with that information so that they can comply and give them that opportunity. And that’s exactly what we’re doing in this first phase.
London Breed: (32:49)
Yeah, Greg, thank you. But I have no control over whether or not we use the National Guard. I’m hoping that it does not come to that, but that’s not my decision to make. Yes.
Speaker 3: (33:00)
[inaudible 00:33:00] mentioned a hiring fair this weekend. How many nurses are you looking to hire and will you be offering any type of incentive for nurses to accept a job? And then my second question is, you mentioned 70 cases in San Francisco, I’m sure not all require hospitalization, but are you running out of personal protection equipment, tests or anything like that?
Dr. Colfax: (33:20)
Yeah. So the first question, the job this weekend, we’re hoping at that … So the big piece of that is we are making offers on the spot, which for those of you who have followed the city hiring process and the challenges, we are offering on the spot. So I think that’s a big incentive for people to join the team and we need as many nurses as we can get. I’m hoping that over this weekend, shortly thereafter, if not that day, we will have 50 more nurses on board and then we will get scores more in the meantime. With regard to your question around the test, the PPE, we have enough PPE for now. We are working across the city to coordinate that personal protective equipments and we have enough for now when we’re ensuring that the people who qualify for it, per CDC guidelines, are the ones who are getting it to protect them and to protect the patients. Thank you.
Speaker 4: (34:20)
Are you satisfied right now with city’s response thus far as to stop the spread of virus within the homeless population and what further action will you take?
London Breed: (34:28)
I think that the city is doing a tremendous job and of course we could use more resources, but in comparison to other cities around the country, we are ahead of, I think, many other places. In fact, I’m getting phone calls from mayors and governors about what we’re doing here in San Francisco. We’re sharing our resources, we’re sharing our information and we know that, and we’ve said this from the very beginning, about vulnerable populations along with the people who are elderly, the people who have certain respiratory conditions or other health conditions. We put homeless into the category of vulnerable populations and have been working on a way, in order to reach out to this particular community and also provide additional resources. And so we are definitely headed down the right path and we’re hoping that the work that we do will help to reduce the spread.
London Breed: (35:29)
And as you know, immediately almost once I declared a state of emergency here in San Francisco, we put forward $5 million specifically, to help with our shelters to help with outreach and other things that we need to do to specifically help our homeless population in San Francisco including those who are living in our shelter systems. But there is definitely still more to be done and as Trent mentioned in his update, we are definitely on our way to a better place with that.
Speaker 5: (36:02)
Dr. Colfax, back to the personal protective equipment, I have probably heard from 15 different healthcare workers via Facebook, email, all sorts of personal messages overnight, both in San Francisco and the Bay area at large and say they do not have the PPE that they need. Some are saying you don’t have any N95’s. They’re concerned that this virus will be become airborne if it isn’t already. They feel, the message that I’m getting, is that they don’t have the PPE that they need in the hospitals. This is from clinics, from emergency departments, from other departments within big hospitals like UC, for example. They don’t have masks, they don’t have the gowns. They’re asking for donations of Clorox wipes on the internet. [inaudible 00:36:46] someone had to stand set up outside where they’re collecting masks this morning to give to healthcare workers. So anecdotally I’m hearing the gear isn’t out there for healthcare workers. How do you intend to deal with that demand as this virus is just going to create more patients and more need?
Dr. Colfax: (37:04)
I’ve emphasized we need to stick with science data and facts in our response to the epidemic, work with what we know now and then prepare as much as we can for the future. Given CDC guidelines and giving our scientific understanding about how the virus is transmitted, the information that I have is that healthcare workers who need the protection are getting the protection they need as of this time. We are concerned about PPE going forward. That is a clear priority for us. It’s a clear priority for the state, all the surrounding counties and the nation. We are looking at our PPE burn rate and working on all aspects of priorities so that we can fulfill that need, if and when it comes to pass. Thank you.
Speaker 6: (37:51)
Dr. Colfax, we heard from the health department that the agency isn’t tracking the number of healthcare workers within San Francisco who are not working because they’re under quarantine. If you don’t know what that number is, how can you solve that?
Dr. Colfax: (38:04)
I’m sorry, does that relate to the PPE question?
Speaker 6: (38:06)
Dr. Colfax: (38:06)
Oh I see. We actually are working with some of the best epidemiologists in the world and some of the best hospital operations people in the world to look at those various scenarios. We actually are adjusting with regard to our surge scenario for a certain number of healthcare workers out and then figuring out how to prepare for that. I don’t have those numbers to share today, but your point is very important that as we prepare for this, we have to understand that certain numbers of healthcare workers will not be available and we are preparing as much as we can for those scenarios.
Speaker 6: (38:42)
Why not reach out directly to those hospitals to find out how many other workers-
Dr. Colfax: (38:46)
When I say search, let me be very clear, our search work is across the healthcare system for all of San Francisco. It is not limited to Zuckerberg San Francisco General. It is not limited to the health department. It is not limited to a binary communication between UCSF and the DPH. We are working with all key hospitals, all hospitals and healthcare systems in our city for this surge planning. Thank you.
Speaker 7: (39:16)
Dr. Colfax, over here. Sorry. You’ve talked a moment ago about that surge. What are the latest projections in terms of the timeline or when that surge is going to peak? What we expect to see in the coming weeks?
Dr. Colfax: (39:25)
That again, we will share that information as it becomes available. This situation is fluid. Things are changing every day and we’re looking at those models and we will share as much information as we can when it’s available.
Speaker 8: (39:36)
How quickly can we have nurses and doctors being tested for Coronavirus? At all?
Dr. Colfax: (39:41)
Healthcare personnel are being tested for Coronavirus based on CDC guidelines.
Speaker 9: (39:48)
I have a question for Mr. [inaudible 00:39:49] I’ve spoken with public health experts, outreach workers and some shelter clients who have expressed concern about emergency shelters ability to handle a COVID 19 outbreak in terms of the conditions in the shelter, training of shelter staff, and information being shared in shelter clients. What’s the city doing to prepare emergency shelter plans?
Trent Rhorer: (40:11)
We’re all concerned and I spoke about this in my initial remarks for this specifically, for the homeless population, we’re doing a couple things. We are expanding our shelter capacity in new sites in order to create social distancing within our shelters. The CDC and state department health guidelines. Even prior to doing that, however we were in constant contact with our shelter providers, our caseworkers in our shelters, talking about creating social distancing within their facilities and about how safe hygiene and the like. The other piece we’re doing in addition to reducing the census in our existing shelters is activating outreach teams to identify vulnerable populations who are on the street. These are age 60 and above, as well as those with underlying health conditions for purposes of putting them in shelter as well. We are anticipating needing about 2,500 additional shelter spaces in pop-up facilities throughout the city. And we are currently assessing many sites right now.
Trent Rhorer: (41:26)
I’m not on the health side, I’m just on the housing side. It was four individuals who we moved into the housing.
Speaker 10: (41:36)
Can you talk about how the Embarcadero Center made a decision to prevent more of their-
Trent Rhorer: (41:36)
They did and we started that process a couple of weeks ago because we knew we needed port commission approval. The initial thought there was move the individuals from our Central Waterfront Navigation center to the Embarcadero in order to free up the central waterfront to be a shelter for covert positive individuals. Subsequent to that, the CDC guidelines came out saying actually congregate settings for all COVID positive is not appropriate and so that we are not going to now be making that move because we want to create social distancing and the Embarcadero site as well as Central Waterfront. Now our plan for COVID positive homeless is to isolate them in hotel rooms or RVs or trailers that the governor is sending our way.
Speaker 11: (42:27)
I have a question for the Chief. I know that part of this is education with people being outside and social distancing, but have you had to take any action against any business or a person who isn’t complying and then as your officers have to keep making contact with people, what type of protective equipment will they have when they have to keep getting close with people’s face?
Chief Bill Scott: (42:48)
All right, well let me answer the last question first. The officers do have personal protective equipment. Like everybody, we’re challenged on supplies and we’re working through our emergency operation center in the city to coordinate that equipment, but they do have it. We still have equipment for the officers. The officers are instructed to keep, again, a safe distance. When we respond to these calls and these incidents, our first priority is to get voluntary compliance. And this is nothing new in a democracy. We want people to voluntarily comply with the law. By and large, people have. The questions that you all have about when people see this, as the mayor stated, the first thing we do is we go and we try to educate, if we get called and by and large that’s been successful.
Chief Bill Scott: (43:42)
We hope that that continues. We understand that there are people out there whose lives have been disrupted. We will have some compassion and patience about how we approach this. We have not had to go back to the same place over and over again. In the event that it happens, the law allows us to enforce. And again, I mean this is not an issue where we’re looking for a test case. What we’re looking for is people to comply. And we’re telling everybody the law is the law, but please comply. And by and large people have. So if you all see it, the city family has the resources to go out and do that education and ask for compliance and those that don’t, then we’ll address that appropriately.
Speaker 12: (44:26)
Can I ask, while you were talking about [inaudible 00:44:31] and Dr. Cofax [inaudible 00:44:34]. Can I just clarify, is it okay to walk in the street holding hands with someone you actually live with and are already in close contact with?
Chief Bill Scott: (44:43)
The message is social distancing, so if you live with somebody and you were … I mean these are the things that I think that are not helpful to the situation because we had no context of that picture that went national of two people holding hands, whether they were husband and wife or they live together. We had no context of what that situation was. It’s really not helpful to put that out there and say that, Oh look, people aren’t complying. We don’t know. But what we do know is social distancing works. Of course, if a mother and their child, husband and wife or domestic partners, they’re living together probably sleeping in the same bed, so why would anybody want that to be enforced? Common sense. We’re asking for common sense. Thanks.
London Breed: (45:58)
All right, thanks.