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San Francisco announces first coronavirus cases, says community spread is likely

A man adjusts his mask and gloves, a precaution to protect himself from coronavirus, while walking by cable car in San Francisco, California on February 27, 2020.

Josh Edelson | Reuters

San Francisco health officials announced Thursday the first two cases of COVID-19 in the city and said they were unable to determine the source of the infections.

The first patient is a man in his 90s who has underlying health conditions and is in “serious condition,” San Francisco public health director Dr. Grant Colfax told reporters Thursday. The second person is a woman in her 40s who is in “fair” condition.

“We do not know at this point how they were exposed to the virus, which suggests it is spreading in the community,” he said in a statement. “We expected that to happen and are further investigating the circumstances of these patients’ exposure.”

The patients are being cared for in separate hospitals, Colfax said, though city and county officials declined to identify which hospitals. The city said in a release both patients were tested for the virus at a Department of Public Health lab on March 4.

“We have been increasing resources and staffing to prepare for the community spread of this virus, and we will do everything we can to protect public health,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement. Breed declared a local emergency in San Francisco on Feb. 25 to prepare for the arrival of the virus, she said, and to access local funds.

The news comes after California announced Wednesday its first death from the virus, in Placer County, which is in northern California near Sacramento.