San Francisco’s Mayoress, London Breed, said Wednesday she expected the city to enter the less restrictive red level next week – meaning restaurants, movies and other stores could open with restrictions – and leave purple , the most restrictive of California’s four-tier system for reopening the economy.
“With the continued improvement of our COVID-19 health indicators, we could move to the red level of state by next Wednesday March 3rd,” Breed said in a Twitter post. “This is a big step forward, but we still have to keep moving forward.”
Only nine of California’s 58 boroughs are in the red row, including Marin and San Mateo in the Bay Area. The red tier allows more people to shop indoors and allows other businesses to open with a reduced number of customers. Museums with 25% capacity, gyms with 10% and cinemas and restaurants with 25% or 100 people, whichever is lower. Only two counties, Sierra and Alpine, have reached the orange level, which allows even fewer restrictions.
The news came when teachers, grocers and rescue workers who live or work in San Francisco were able to be vaccinated for the first time on Wednesday.
But not everyone could make an appointment.
That’s because San Francisco, like many health departments and providers across the state, prioritizes re-admissions for people who received their first doses a few weeks ago. According to the city’s health ministry, around 91,000 Franciscans will receive their second dose in the next few weeks. Many new eligible people have to wait two or three weeks for more vaccines to arrive.
Craig MacLellan, a San Francisco Whole Foods employee, was one of thousands who were eligible for the vaccine on Wednesday. At around 9 a.m., he looked at an online vaccination system. He expected to click on his grocery and farm workers profession to indicate he was eligible.
But he said the category wasn’t listed. MacLellan checked about an hour later, and while grocery and farm workers were now listed, the appointments were booked.
MacLellan said that since he is young and has no health problems, he feels safe at work. But he is concerned about some of his employees.
“While I’m very excited to be in a group that makes it, I understand that this is one of the greatest logistical challenges in American history,” said MacLellan. “I can imagine tens of thousands of people signing up on these websites today.”
Still, some got lucky on Wednesday.
“It’s a huge relief,” said Frank Lara, a fifth grade teacher at Buena Vista Horace Mann School in San Francisco. He received his first shot on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s obviously stressful getting there and hopefully everything is organized. But it’s one step closer to being in the classroom. “
Vaccination of educators has been a major point of contention for the city’s teachers’ union, which has stated that unvaccinated teachers will not be allowed back into the classroom until San Francisco has reached the orange level, which means the virus is spreading “moderately”.
San Francisco was delivering up to 6,000 shots a day before the winter storm in the Midwest caused delays and mass vaccination sites across the city and across California. To date, 80% of the city’s health care workers and people 65 and over have been vaccinated, Mayor London Breed told Twitter on Wednesday.
“We can currently deliver more than 10,000 doses a day once we get more care,” added Breed.
The status of the late vaccinations in San Francisco remained unclear on Wednesday, and city officials did not answer questions.
But three other districts in the Bay Area that reported delays last week – Santa Clara, Alameda and Contra Costa – said on Wednesday that thousands of vaccine doses have now arrived.
None of these districts had to cancel vaccination appointments.
The Marin County Health Department said Wednesday that educators, food service workers and other key personnel could make appointments for vaccinations right away. The agency agreed to open its supply after vaccinating more than 60% of all residents in the county over 65 years of age.
“We have made great strides in vaccinating our healthcare workers and elderly residents, and it is time to protect our essential workers,” said Dr. Marin County’s health officer Matt Willis in a statement.
The Santa Clara County Health Department announced Wednesday that a major vaccination site will open at Gilroy High School on Sunday. The website, established with the Gilroy Unified School District, offers district residents who qualify for Phase 1B of the state vaccine rollout plan, which includes educators and food workers, up to 2,000 doses of vaccine per day.
“I am confident that many of our residents and staff will sign up in the near future,” said Dr. Deborah Flores, the headmistress of Gilroy. “Please register and get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently available in the US are given in two shots 21 or 28 days apart.
In the meantime, some elementary schools in Sonoma County may reopen as the number of coronavirus cases has fallen enough and other requirements have been met, said Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County Health Officer, at a news conference Wednesday.
Schools looking to reopen can submit a reopening plan that will pause middle and high schools until the county changes from purple to red tier.
As the number of new coronavirus cases, hospital admissions and deaths from COVID-19 continues to decline, medical experts are still warning of the risk of asymptomatic spread.
Dr. Bob Wachter, chairman of UCSF’s medical division, said on Twitter Monday that 1.1% of coronavirus tests in his hospital are positive, even though the patient showed no symptoms. That means roughly 1 in 100 San Franciscans can walk around with the virus without knowing it.
“So don’t be disappointed, especially since – if you haven’t been vaccinated yet – you will get a chance in the next three months,” said Wachter.
The White House expects to allocate 3 to 4 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by the end of next week if it receives emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration, President Biden’s COVID-19 coordinator Jeff said Zients, on Wednesday. The FDA is expected to make a final decision within a few days.