Despite expectations, San Francisco managed to avoid being placed into the most restrictive reopening tier in California, the purple tier, on Tuesday and staying in the red tier after the sudden spike of coronavirus cases in the region.
The city’s daily cases have increased from 73 to 118, which is over 60% compared to the beginning of the month. However, San Francisco’s numbers are still much lower than the majority of the state and the nation.
The director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Dr. Grant Colfax, said the city was in a critical state amid the pandemic. He noted that people should not let the virus spread too quickly, or it will be too difficult to stop.
Last week, Colfax warned residents that San Francisco was moving towards the purple tier from the red tier due to the increase in positive cases. Despite the city’s narrow avoidance, the medical expert still expects the region to go into the more restrictive tier soon.
San Francisco is surrounded by cities that have been placed into the purple tier as six of nine Bay Area counties have been restricted further. Colfax said that being in the red tier, the city should still be optimistic that it does not have the worst infection spread but noted that residents remain aware and cautious, especially during the holidays.
State health officials previously announced that several counties in California would be placed into more restrictive tiers following the surge of coronavirus infections. The secretary of the California Health and Human Services, Dr. Mark Ghaly, said during a briefing on Tuesday that the city is in the middle of a massive case spike.
Over the last 14 days, California recorded an increase of 81.3% to its coronavirus hospitalizations with a 57.1% increase in the number of people in intensive care units. Ghaly said that the surge was the highest spike of hospitalizations across the state and expected to see the numbers rise.
On Tuesday, California’s 14-day positivity rate jump to 5.6% from November 10, where officials recorded only 3.7%.
Bay Area experts said the coming weeks would bring even more positive cases as residents ignore public health officials’ recommendations of avoiding travel as the holiday season approaches.
Santa Clara County is conducting efforts to curb the spread of the infection by increasing business compliance efforts for both Thanksgiving and Black Friday. County officials announced the plans on Tuesday during a news briefing.
The county counselor, James R. Williams, said officials would be checking businesses across the state to ensure that they are following guidelines. Compliance staffers wearing custom yellow vests would visit “high traffic shopping areas” to monitor business establishments. Businesses that violate regulations would face a minimum fine of $250 and go up to the thousands, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The director of community and business engagement for Santa Clara County, Michael Balliet, said the efforts would be implemented to encourage businesses to adhere to strict protocols amid the pandemic. He said that establishments had been educated on the guidelines and requests to continue following the rules.
Grocery stores are limited to 50% capacity, and clothing and retail stores are only allowed to open 25% of their limit if placed in the purple tier. The restrictive status also limits most indoor activities, such as gatherings of people from different households.
Despite not being in the purple tier, San Francisco has already banned indoor gatherings of people from different households. Ghaly applauded Bay Area health experts and local leaders in maintaining social distancing guidelines and efforts to curb the infection. He said, “Whatever they have there, I hope we can continue to spread that throughout the state.”