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San Francisco Nears 'Herd Immunity', Will Fully Reopen June 15

Updated: Jun 13, 2021

  • San Francisco leads the country in vaccination rates, with 80% of eligible residents having received at least one dose, and will resume virtually all normal activities on June 15

  • Exceptions include "mega events," or indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 people, which will require either proof of vaccine, a negative test, or masks

  • Staff at high-risk indoor facilities, such as nursing homes and jails, will require proof of vaccination

San Francisco crossed a major milestone this week, with 80% of eligible residents having received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.

That puts the City on track to reach 'herd immunity', or widespread protection from the virus that comes with a large majority of the population becoming immune. Reaching that threshold significantly lowers the likelihood of spread, according to experts. San Francisco is expected to be the first major U.S. city to reach that milestone.

“From the beginning of this pandemic, San Franciscans have led the way in their efforts to slow the spread of the virus, keep each other safe, and end this pandemic," said Mayor London Breed. "That has continued through our vaccination efforts, which have focused on ensuring that all our residents have access to vaccines and that they’re convenient.”

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health estimate that at least 70% of a population must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to achieve herd immunity; in San Francisco, 63% of all residents including children have been fully vaccinated, and 72% are partially vaccinated.

As of June 8, COVID diagnoses were down 96% since January 2021, hospitalizations were at their lowest point since the beginning of the pandemic, and the City was averaging 15 new cases per day in early June. Alongside the state's planned reopening on June 15, San Francisco will likewise remove "nearly all" COVID restrictions, said Breed on Friday.

Restrictions of most indoor and outdoor activities are going away next Tuesday, meaning that people can gather indoors at 100% capacity. Mask requirements are also going away.

One exception is so-called indoor "mega events," or gatherings of more than 5,000 people. The City's Department of Public Health will request proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test at any such events, and unvaccinated attendees must also wear masks. If only self-attestation is required, all attendees must wear face coverings.

In indoor settings deemed very high-risk, such as nursing facilities, homeless shelters and jails, San Francisco will require that staff in those facilities be vaccinated.


Image by Jake Buonemani
Image by Rasmus Gundorff Sæderup

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