San Francisco officials are reminding people that they should only dial 911 for life-threatening emergencies, as the omicron variant continues to affect firefighters and staff at San Francisco’s Zuckerberg General Hospital.
Fire chief Jeanine Nicholson said about 10% of the department’s workforce, or around 140 people, are currently absent after testing positive for Covid-19. Nicholson added that the department is seeing an increase in 911 calls, which she said “puts a strain on the system.”
The city has received more than 400 emergency calls a day in the past few days, while the city typically receives around 300 to 330 a day, Nicholson said.
She said the fire stations are fully staffed and emergency medical services will be available, but the availability of ambulances is currently proving to be a challenge:
“We really want to keep our ambulances available for people who have a heart attack or stroke so that we can get them to the hospital. “
Nicholson added that this is happening across the region, state and country.
San Francisco General Hospital Zuckerberg CEO Dr Susan Ehrlich said his hospital faces a similar situation when it comes to staff. About 10 percent of its workforce, or 400 people, are either with Covid-19 or in quarantine after potential exposure to the virus:
We have never seen anything like this during the surges we have had so far. “
Despite an increase in public demand for Covid-19 testing, Ehrlich and Nicholson urged the public not to go to the emergency room to request a Covid-19 test. If you have mild symptoms of the virus, stay home, Ehrlich said:
If you are having symptoms, if you are feeling sick, you should stay home, take care of yourself, and try to stay away from others as much as possible.
Other agencies in the city, including the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, have also experienced a staff shortage due to the increase in Covid-19 cases caused by omicron.
On Saturday, the SFMTA tweeted on Twitter that passengers will have to wait longer on 10 bus lines due to several out of service coaches.
SFMTA Transit Director Julie Kirschbaum wrote on the agency website Friday that they miss up to 15 percent of Muni’s regular service.
She said the agency foresees the worst-case scenario if overall staffing levels decline significantly or if a small “but vital” transit management center or food control center is significantly affected by the current outbreak of Covid-19:
Either of these situations could leave us with no choice but to make further reductions in Muni service, such as canceling routes or introducing bus substitutions for rail service. “