Mayor London Breed on Being at the Forefront of Shelter Orders: 'It Had To Be Done'

All News KCBS Radio
March 31, 2020 - 8:21 pm
'Shelter In Place' Ordered For Bay Area As Localities Escalate Response To Coronavirus Pandemic

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced an extension of the stay at home order until at least May 1, with other Bay Area counties following suit, to try and stem the coronavirus outbreak.

Breed was the first major city mayor in the country to declare the initial shelter in place order in early March, and has received praise for doing so.

She spoke with KCBS Radio on Tuesday and said that activating those initial orders was definitely a tough call, but after looking at the data and what was happening in other parts of the world, it had to be done.

“When we made the decision to issue the emergency declaration, we didn’t have one case in San Francisco yet,” Breed said. “People were wondering why we were we doing this.”

She explained that a proactive approach was needed, even though she knew people would be upset and that businesses and residents would unfortunately suffer because of it.

“I had to put public health ahead of everything,” Breed said.

She painted what she called the “worst case scenario” as the motivation, in which hospital beds and ventilators would be completely at capacity, and acted on the thought of having to turn “somebody’s grandmother, somebody’s mother” away due to the lack of resources.

Breed said that the extended order includes the enforcement of the six foot social distancing rules for those not living under the same household, and adds changes to housing and park limitations. A health directive issued by the county health officer on Tuesday called for those clarifications, especially for those who chose to initially ignore the first orders.

She said that the city has had a number of challenges with some convenience stores where people have been congregating.

“The last thing we want to do is arrest people,” Breed said. “At the same time, we know that certain locations attract large groups of people.”

The city’s solution was to shut those places down early, issuing a close time of  8 p.m. while working with businesses to figure out the impacts of that decision.

With 397 confirmed cases and six deaths in San Francisco, Breed emphasized that expanding the number of weekly tests will raise those numbers considerably, but doing so will bring city officials some clarity as to whether or not the shelter orders have been effective.

On Tuesday, KCBS Radio learned that the city’s budget deficit could grow between $1.1 billion and $1.7 billion over the next two years. 

When asked how worried she is about those numbers, Breed said she was, “very concerned,” and that it would impact the global economy, not just on the local level.

“As we make decisions around protecting public health, we also have to think about the financial health of our city and the people who are a part of our city,” she said.

Breed has been working with city Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu in establishing a task force toward economic recovery with initiatives for small businesses, residents and artists.

She recognized those initiatives as “band-aids,” and that they are not going to be able to help everybody, but their goal is to do everything they can.


Written by Mallory Somera, with reporting by Patti Reising and Jeff Bell.