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Castro sober space closing for 10 days due to COVID

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Castro Country Club Executive Director Billy Lemon has announced that the sober space will temporarily shutter until January 15. Photo: Sari Staver
Castro Country Club Executive Director Billy Lemon has announced that the sober space will temporarily shutter until January 15. Photo: Sari Staver  

The Castro Country Club, a clean and sober space in the LGBTQ neighborhood, will be closing for 10 days starting January 5, and remain closed till January 15, due to COVID, executive director Billy Lemon announced in an email to supporters.

"Over the last 72 hours we've had a significant number of our volunteers test positive and be exposed to COVID 19," Lemon, a gay man who's overseen the country club since 2016, wrote. "In our continued effort to keep the community safe, especially those with compromised immune systems, this pause in service is required."

Meetings at the club's Edwardian house at 4058 18th Street will also be put on pause until January 15 as the case numbers in San Francisco are at their highest since the start of the pandemic, he added.

"While the CCC has been diligent in checking the vaccination status of our patrons, the Omicron variant is still transmissible. Again, our focus is on the health and well-being of the entire community," Lemon stated.

The temporary closure mirrors other shutdowns at businesses throughout the Bay Area, as staff test positive for the highly-contagious Omicron COVID variant.

San Francisco's health department reported January 4 that an average of 829 city residents a day were contracting COVID-19, as of December 27, which is more than double last winter's peak at 373 cases per day. While 81% of San Franciscans are vaccinated, and 54% of vaccinated residents have been boosted, the highly-contagious Omicron variant is easily able to spread as breakthrough infections, often asymptomatically or with mild illness, noted health officials.

"The next several weeks are absolutely critical, it is within our power to limit the damage of this latest surge but we need everybody's help," stated Dr. Grant Colfax, a gay man who is the city's director of health. "San Francisco is in a relatively good position compared to other municipalities. Our high rates of vaccinations and boosters are doing what we need them to do, which is prevent severe illness and disease. But the Omicron variant is challenging us even more than Delta to manage this disease while keeping our economy, schools and other essential services open."

The health department is asking residents to consider taking additional measures during times of high transmission, such as getting vaccinated/boosted, upgrading masks, working from home if possible, or limiting time spent in crowded, indoor settings.

It also stressed that individuals who test positive, including if they are asymptomatic, should assume they are infected with COVID-19 and take measures to get care and isolate away from others. Additionally, the health department is asking people to notify their healthcare provider about their positive test result and stay in contact with them during their illness.

"San Franciscans have shown over and over that they know what to do to take care of each other and protect public health," stated Mayor London Breed. "We have one of the highest vaccination rates of any major city, and all of our City workers, including those on the front lines, are vaccinated against the virus. But even with all that, this new variant is putting us through some challenging times, especially as people are testing positive and required to isolate. While this will be tough and people should take steps to protect themselves and their families, I'm confident we will be able to continue to provide the services our residents deserve, and we will get through these weeks ahead."

Individuals who do not have a provider or need assistance with isolation can connect with the SFDPH COVID Resource Center at (628) 217-6101.

More information about what to do if you test positive can be found here.

For more information on the Castro Country Club, go to its website.

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