San Francisco responds to coronavirus by limiting gatherings and expanding resources

Dr. Grant Colfax speaking at a podium at a press conference with Mayor London Breed.
City issues new Public Health Orders, and Mayor Breed commits additional City resources to support vulnerable populations.

The City of San Francisco takes the health and well-being of our community extremely seriously. The City is taking extensive and proactive actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, focusing on our most vulnerable populations.

As of March 12, 18 cases of COVID-19 were identified in San Francisco residents. Every day at 10am, current positive cases are updated by the Department of Public Health. See the current positive cases.

This week, we announced these major updates.

Group events

All large group events of 1,000 or more people in San Francisco are prohibited. We also recommend that events of more than 250 people are cancelled.

Check with the location for information about group events of fewer than 1,000 people. Many facilities, like the San Francisco Public Library, are closing all public programs for March 2020.

Vulnerable populations, which include those over 60 or who have health conditions, should avoid events with more than 10 people.


The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) will keep their schools open at this time.

Lakeshore Elementary has closed. See the SFUSD resource for real-time school information.

Some schools, including City College of San Francisco and private schools, may decide on their own whether to stay open. Please see your school’s website for more information. 

Protecting the unsheltered

The City will provide temporary housing for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and who cannot self-isolate due to homelessness or shared living arrangements.

The City announced $5 million in emergency funds and a new Public Health Order to:

  • Expand cleaning in shelters, resource centers, and Single Room Occupancy residences (SROs)
  • Increase in-home meal delivery programs for individuals in SROs
  • Expand shelter hours to encourage homeless individuals to remain in shelters 

What to do

Get text updates

Text COVID19SF to 888-777 to get text alerts about the changing COVID-19 situation. 

Stay healthy

If you are sick, stay home. Call your doctor to talk about your symptoms. If you do not have a doctor, call 311 or go to

Follow these common sense health practices:

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Try alternatives to shaking hands, like a wave.

If you have recently returned from a place with ongoing COVID-19 infections, monitor your health and follow the instructions of public health officials.

There is no recommendation to wear masks at this time to prevent yourself from getting sick.

Your risk

Your risk for COVID-19 is based on your travel, your contacts, and exposure to the virus. No racial, ethnic or cultural group is more at risk.

Limit your outings if you are over 60 or have health conditions

We recommend you do not go to gatherings where there will be more than 10 people. If you can work from home, you should. Avoid people who are sick. 

Health conditions that make you vulnerable include respiratory conditions, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and weakened immune systems.

How to get tested for COVID-19

Call your doctor if you think you have novel coronavirus. If you do not have a doctor, call 311 or go to The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. 

Your doctor will contact the Department of Public Health, who will work with the CDC to decide if you can be tested. We will consider your travel, your contacts, and exposure to the virus. 

There is no on-demand testing. 

The lab at the Department of Public Health has begun testing for coronavirus. We expect to get results in 1 to 2 days. Before, getting results from the CDC would take 3 to 7 days.

Stay informed

Use trusted resources to stay up to date with accurate COVID-19 information. Check the Center for Disease Control, and SF Department of Public Health.

You can also print out our fact sheet in English, Chinese, Filipino and Spanish.

Prepare in case of illness or quarantine

  1. Prepare to work from home if it is possible for your job.
  2. Think about how you and your family can get ready in case of illness.
  3. Make a backup childcare plan, in case you or a caregiver becomes sick.
  4. Make a plan if your child’s school closes.
  5. Make sure you have a supply of all the medications you need.

Parents should plan for school closures

If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at your school, the school will work with DPH to decide if it should be closed.

If your child is sick, keep them home. If your child has a chronic health condition, talk to your doctor about whether they should go to school.

All businesses should clean more often

To protect the public, businesses should regularly clean commonly used surfaces like:

  • Workstations
  • Countertops
  • Door knobs
  • Kiosk screens

You can use your regular cleaning agents, following the directions on the label.

Provide disposable cleaning wipes for your staff to use. Encourage your employees to wipe down door knobs, keyboards, desks, remote controls, and phones before using them. You should also provide tissues and alcohol-based hand sanitizer for your staff.

Businesses should protect their staff

We recommend that businesses suspend travel for employees for the next 2 weeks, if travel is not needed.

Consider telecommute options, if you haven’t already.

Minimize gatherings where staff will work within arm’s length of each other. This includes large in-person meetings and conferences.

Urge sick employees to stay home, without the need for a doctor’s note. They should stay home until they do not have symptoms for at least 24 hours. Create flexible sick leave policies.

If an employee starts to feel sick at work, have a space for them separate from other staff.

Plan how your business might run if you have fewer staff. Work with other business groups to coordinate a community response.

The City has created a resource for employers and employees outlining all existing resources, contacts for assistance, and updates on the City’s growing response to the business community. 

Read more tips for businesses on the CDC website.