Coronavirus: San Francisco declares precautionary 'state of emergency' despite no cases being confirmed in city
Besides San Francisco, the Santa Clara and San Diego counties have declared emergencies as well
San Francisco has declared a "state of emergency" over the COVID-19 coronavirus that is wreaking havoc across the globe despite not having any confirmed cases within the city itself.
Mayor London Breed announced the local emergency during a press conference where she said the move was necessary to ensure the city would be fully prepared when they did have an outbreak. "Although there are still zero confirmed cases in San Francisco residents, the global picture is changing rapidly, and we need to step-up preparedness," Breed said in the statement. "We see the virus spreading in new parts of the world every day, and we are taking the necessary steps to protect San Franciscans from harm."
There have been 53 coronavirus cases in the US so far, with 10 of those coming from California. Three of those 10 patients were treated in San Francisco hospital while hundreds of others who returned to the city recently from China are being monitored as well, according to Breed's office.
She acknowledged that the high volume of travel between mainland China and San Francisco combined with the documented spread of the virus in other countries -- there are now close to 3,000 cases in 30 countries outside mainland China -- meant "there is a growing likelihood that we will see cases in San Francisco."
The declaration of the local emergency will help mobilize city resources, accelerate emergency planning, streamline staffing, coordinate agencies across the city, and allow for future state and federal reimbursement. It will also help raise additional awareness on how to prepare for the coronavirus before it appears in the city.
Dr. Grant Colfax, the director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said the declaration would allow the county to put more clinicians, nurses, and case managers on call around the clock.
"Our action is proactive and is based on the evolution of the disease globally," he said. "Although we do not have any confirmed cases of coronavirus among San Francisco residents. we cannot afford to be unprepared as circumstances change."
Executive Director of the Department of Emergency Management Mary Ellen Carroll said at the same press conference that the city was working with the Chinese community and was setting up a segment of the operations center to coordinate outreach to community members, businesses, faith organizations, and others.
"As we elevate the response in our emergency center, we will establish and we have established today a community branch that will consist of community, faith, business, and education partners," she said. "As a result, community and government will work together and coordinate our response to this emerging threat."
Besides San Francisco, the Santa Clara and San Diego counties have issued emergency declarations as well. The emergency will take effect immediately and will be in place for seven days before the Board of Supervisors votes on it again on March 3.