San Francisco Mayor London Breed has declared a state of emergency amid the coronavirus outbreak and its rapid spread.
On Tuesday, Breed emphasized that the move was precautionary, as there have been no confirmed cases in San Francisco but that “the global picture is changing rapidly, and we need to step-up preparedness,” she said in a press conference.
“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,” Breed said.
The mayor added that by declaring the local emergency, it would help the city mobilize city resources and personnel to create an efficient emergency response should the coronavirus come to the city.
“By declaring a state of emergency we are prioritizing the safety of our communities by being prepared,” Breed said. “Our number one goal is the health and safety of all our residents.”
She also emphasized that the city was not discouraging public gatherings at this time and discussed the impact of the virus on San Francisco’s Chinese community.
“We should continue to support the neighborhoods we love, like Chinatown,” Breed said. “It’s an amazing neighborhood and we will continue to be very supportive.”
The Director of the Department of Health, Doctor Grant Colfax, also spoke at the press conference, backing up Breed’s decision to declare the state of emergency.
“Given the high volume of travel between San Francisco and mainland China and the spread of the virus to other countries, there is a growing likelihood that we will see cases in San Francisco,” he said.
San Francisco’s declaration comes just one day after health officials with the Centers for Disease Control warned Americans to begin preparing for the likelihood that coronavirus will spread in the U.S.
“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country anymore but a question of when this will happen,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC said during a press briefing on Tuesday.
Messonnier said that Americans “need to prepare for a significant disruption” to their lives and plan for possible school closures, find out about teleworking options and if their health care providers offer telemedicine options.
“We are asking the American public to prepare in the expectation that this could be bad,” she said.
As of Wednesday, the U.S. has 53 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Of those, 12 cases occurred in people who recently returned from trips to China before news of the outbreak spread — and two cases were from their close contacts.
The remaining 39 cases are in people who were brought back by the U.S. Department of State, either in one of the three chartered flights of Americans who had been living in China or from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that had been quarantined in Yokohama, Japan.
The total number of cases globally has reached 80,980, with nearly 3,000 deaths, according to The New York Times.
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