San Francisco is being touted as a national model for stopping the coronavirus, but an expert says it may not stay that way in the next phase

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
A man wears a mask to protect himself from the coronavirus while running in front of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge along the Embarcadero in San Francisco, in April.
A man running in front of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge along the Embarcadero in San Francisco in April.

Jeff Chiu / AP

  • The Atlantic dubbed San Francisco "the city that flattened the coronavirus curve" and called it a national model for the US on how to fight the novel coronavirus.

  • The article, published Sunday, focused on both Mayor London Breed's early aggressive measures as well as residents successfully following social-distancing protocols. 

  • Ann Keller, an associate professor at the University of California at Berkeley, told Business Insider that San Francisco could still fall behind in the next stage of the crisis, which is expected to be defined by testing and tracing the coronavirus.

  • She didn't rule the area out as a contender, however.

  • As of Tuesday, California had tested 190,882 people, and San Francisco had 15 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories

San Francisco's handling of the novel coronavirus has been touted as a national model for the US, but at least one professor says it may not continue to lead the way.

On Sunday, The Atlantic published an article titled "The City That Has Flattened the Coronavirus Curve," referring to Mayor London Breed's quick and aggressive moves to contain the outbreak that the article said made San Francisco "a national model" in fighting the pandemic.

Russell Berman wrote for The Atlantic that Breed declared a state of emergency in late February, before a single case of the coronavirus had been confirmed in the city, and soon after banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

As of Tuesday, California had tested 190,882 people and San Francisco had 15 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

"All evidence suggests that they are doing much better, and the simplest explanation for that is that they did take social-distancing measures very seriously and they did it early," the Johns Hopkins University epidemiologist Emily Gurley told The Atlantic.

Berman noted that San Francisco and the rest of California struggled more than states like New York to increase testing for the coronavirus, meaning a low number of confirmed cases may not be an accurate picture. But Yvonne Maldonado, a Stanford Medical School epidemiologist, told The Atlantic that signs on the ground, like hospital beds that weren't full, backed up San Francisco's measures.

Putting it more bluntly, Cyrus Shahpar, a director of the nonprofit Resolve to Save Lives, which seeks to halt epidemics, told The Atlantic: "Deaths are hard to hide."

Despite the Atlantic article, a professor at the Bay Area-based University of California at Berkeley told Business Insider it was possible the Bay Area wouldn't remain a leader in fighting the pandemic when the US moved to the next stage of the crisis, expected to involve mass testing and tracing of cases.

"As I understand it, California still lags other parts of the country in testing," Ann Keller, an associate professor of health policy and management, said. "It is possible that another part of the country will emerge as the model for the rest of the country when it comes to setting up large-scale testing and contact tracing."

San Francisco's Mayor London Breed speaks in 2019.
Mayor London Breed of San Francisco in 2019.

Stephen Lam / Reuters

Despite the lag, she said: "The six Bay Area counties are certainly contenders for who will lead in the next phase of the response."

Keller also said the article highlighted Breed's success in issuing the shelter-in-place order since decisions like this one could backfire.

"Sometimes, a competent public-health response looks like an overreaction because the intervention worked, preventing a worse outcome," she said.

She said Bay Area citizens could see the effects of a delayed response in other parts of the country, which probably increased support for Breed's decision.

"Imagine if the six Bay Area counties were the only ones experiencing coronavirus," she said. "The mayors of those cities would probably be under fire for the economic hardship they imposed since there has been no shortage of ICU capacity in the Bay Area."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting