San Francisco Declares State of Emergency Over Coronavirus

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
February 26, 2020Updated: February 26, 2020

San Francisco on Feb. 25 declared a local emergency over the new coronavirus in a bid to curb the spread of the deadly disease in the city.

The city’s mayor made the move—effective immediately for seven days—despite having no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday said Americans should prepare for community spread of the disease.

California’s fourth-largest city said it made the move to boost its coronavirus preparedness and raise public awareness of risks the virus may spread to the city.

“Although there are still zero confirmed cases in San Francisco residents, the global picture is changing rapidly, and we need to step up preparedness,” Mayor London Breed said in a 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.”

Declaring a state of emergency will allow San Francisco to increase its emergency planning efforts and promptly redirect resources and employees if there were to be an outbreak in the city. A board of supervisors will vote on the declaration on March 3.

It comes as the CDC confirmed 57 cases of coronavirus in the United States on Tuesday. All of the new cases were evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was held in medical isolation for two weeks off the coast of Japan, CDC officials confirmed to CNN.

In all, the confirmed cases include 40 passengers who were onboard the Diamond Princess, three people evacuated from China, and 14 U.S. cases. The ship ultimately turned from a quarantine zone into a highly effective means of transmitting the virus, as hundreds of people became infected, leading to four deaths and prompting criticism about how Japanese officials responded.

Diamond Princess
A man cycles past city buses (back L) lined up to transport the first batch of passengers disembarking from the Diamond Princess cruise ship at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama on Feb. 19, 2020. (Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)

Of the 14 U.S. cases, eight have been confirmed in California, one in Washington state, one in Arizona, two in Illinois, one in Massachusetts, and one in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, health officials in Oregon, Michigan, and Washington state say they are monitoring hundreds of people who are at risk of contracting the virus.

Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC said Americans should prepare for their lives to be disrupted by the spread of the new virus, including closures of schools and businesses.

She told reporters in a phone call on Tuesday that the number of cases popping up without a known source of exposure in Italy, Iran, South Korea, and other countries “makes all of us feel that the risk of spread in the United States is increasing.”

Dozens of people around the world outside of China have died from the virus, which causes a disease that has similar symptoms to influenza, including fever, headache, and difficulty breathing.

Trump’s administration on Monday sent a $2.5 billion supplemental budget request to Congress as part of an urgent plan to combat the deadly outbreak of the new coronavirus.

Reuters contributed to this report.