‘We never reached those hospitalizations or ICU capacity concerns’
Few university medical researchers have been willing to challenge lockdown orders from their mayors and governors.
But San Francisco’s indefinite extension of its stay-at-home and 10-day quarantine orders prompted a University of California-San Francisco infectious disease specialist to speak out.
It may actually increase the spread of the novel coronavirus because more people will gather indoors, where scientists have long known the threat of infection is highest, Monica Gandhi, medical director of the HIV Clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, told CBS San Francisco.
Mayor London Breed’s order is not data-driven and is likely to backfire with the public, she said:
“We never reached those hospitalizations or ICU capacity concerns that the state had set as metrics for this degree of shutdown,” she said. “And then to continue it indefinitely, as kind of our New Year’s present to San Francisco, didn’t make sense to me.”
Gandhi also urged officials in a tweet to “start considering the loss of jobs, impact on poor, overdose deaths, etc.” from the indefinite extension of COVID-19 restrictions.
Even though the city has a healthy 30 percent of ICU beds available, and only about 200 new positive cases daily on a seven-day average, Mayor Breed said the city needed more time on hard lockdown to “determine that we are moving in the right direction and that the December holidays don’t set us back.”
The mayor is at risk of losing public trust, however, according to Gandhi. She believes a data-driven approach would safely allow outdoor dining with some mitigation protocols and limited indoor gym capacity:
“It seems paradoxical to say loosen to allow more compliance, but it’s actually the truth, because the idea is that people will trust public health officials more if they keep things that are safe open,” said Dr. Gandhi.
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