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Coronavirus under control in San Francisco Chinatown despite worst fears

San Francisco Chinatown

San Francisco’s Chinatown’s only hospital has been relatively free of coronavirus patients, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

“It’s kind of amazing,” San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin said. “Here we are — it is now the beginning of April, and Chinatown, knock on wood, is looking pretty darn good.”

In fact, Chinese Hospital has been able to take non-Covid cases from other hospitals to free up those beds for COVID patients.

Doctors at Chinese Hospital credit early action to control the virus long before measures were taken in other parts of the country. The hospital coordinated efforts for the entire community, working with Chinese language press on spreading information about best practices.

Doctors encouraged residents who returned from China to self quarantine for 14 days. Central Chinese High School sterilized its classrooms and the Chinese Community Development Center, which owns numerous SROs or Single Residence Occupancy units in Chinatown, put in hand sanitizers, educated tenants and doubled up on cleaning.

Chinese Hospital didn’t admit its first COVID patient until March 26. In other parts of the city, 32 cases of coronavirus were detected in SROs outside of Chinatown.

It had been feared the SROs with its closed quarters would be a hotbed for the spread of the pandemic, but so far, at least in Chinatown, that hasn’t happened.

The San Francisco Examiner reports there are 180 SRO hotels in Chinatown with a total of 6500 rooms.

“For us, by far the most significant concerns are the huge concentration of low-income immigrant residents living in SRO hotels,” Malcolm Yeung of Chinatown CDC said to the Examiner in late March. “You gotta think, if shelters are like Mardi Gras in terms of transmission, SROs are like cruise ships.”

Despite the successful efforts to contain the virus in Chinatown, business slowed in the community long before the stay at home orders were implemented.

“You walk on the street – you see less people, less tourists,” Kevin Chan, owner of the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, said to NPR back in late February. “And everybody’s just scared – scared to come to the Chinese communities.”

As of Thursday, there is only one COVID-19 patient at Chinese Hospital. Two others have been discharged.

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