Starting this week, the San Francisco Department of Public Health will offer COVID-19 vaccinations to uninsured and underinsured people 65 and older through the city's health network, officials said in a press conference Tuesday.
"People 65 years of age and up only account for 15% of COVID-19 cases, but they account for over 80% of San Francisco’s COVID deaths and nearly half of our hospitalizations," said Dr. Grant Colfax, the city's director of health.
Seniors who are already in the network can receive the vaccine. Those who are not enrolled, are uninsured or are covered through Medi-Cal can sign up and get the vaccine as well.
The decision comes as federal officials announced new recommendations to vaccinate anyone older than 65 in an effort to speed up distribution.
Colfax also said all residents of Laguna Honda Hospital have been offered the first dose of the vaccine, and that the remainder of residents in skilled nursing facilities are expected to be offered shots by the end of the week.
Officials said the city is working on a mass vaccine distribution plan, including opening a large-scale vaccination center, but that it needs significantly more doses on-hand first.
"We are looking, we are planning and we expect these to be on the ground soon and certainly in time for us to ensure that people who become eligible for the vaccine have a place to get it through their health care provider," Colfax said. "And if they don't have a health care provider, that there's also access for people who meet the state criteria to get the vaccine at that site as well."
Small Business Relief Plan
Also on Tuesday, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a new $62 million COVID-19 relief plan for small businesses. Through a combination of grants and "very low to zero-interest loans," the city will provide direct relief to businesses that have been struggling to stay afloat.
"We're talking about our restaurants, our nail salons, our bars, our nightlife venues, our gyms," Breed said during a press call. "This new plan will more than triple the amount of local support we have provided in grants and loans so far during this pandemic."
Breed said the funds are targeted toward businesses that have not been able to open their doors or have been forced to provide only limited services due to state and regional stay-at-home orders.
The proposed relief plan offers two possible avenues for funding:
- SF Relief Grants: More than $12 million will be allocated for grants, and they will be based on the number of workers a business employed as of February 2020. Grant amounts range from $5,000 to $20,000.
- SF Community Investment Loans: $50 million has been allocated for the loan program, allowing the city to provide up to $250,000 in very-low and no-interest loans. This program will target "small community anchor businesses that employ more people, with an ultimate aim of retaining and creating new jobs," according to the press release.