Photo: JOSH EDELSON / AFP Via Getty Images
As the coronavirus rises again in San Francisco, city officials are gearing up for the worst possible outcome: massive fall infections, potential overloads on the city’s health care system, and a severe consequence of the city’s death. city.
At a virtual press conference Thursday, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Dr. Grant Colfax, confirmed that the number of hospitalized COVID patients is higher than had been seen, stressing the urgent need for residents of the city self-correct to mitigate the spread of the virus. During the last peak in April, 94 people were hospitalized. Six weeks ago, that number dropped to 26. But by the end of July, the number of hospitalized had risen to 107. Of those, Colfax noted, a quarter are in intensive care.
“In just 10 days, this month we have gone from 5,000 to 6,000 cases of COVID-19,” he said. “Let me be clear: we are experiencing a greater increase in COVID-19. The virus is moving rapidly and many people are very ill. If this continues at current rates, we estimate on average that we will have more than 750 Christians in the in mid-October and more than 600 deaths by COVID-19 in 2020. [The] the worst case puts us at 2,400 hospitalizations and 1,800 deaths. These scenarios become more likely as each day goes by with current trends. “
These figures seem appalling, but at this point they can still be avoided. The city recorded 6,423 cases and 58 deaths on Thursday. Colfax noted that San Francisco hospitals are not crowded as if they were in New York, but that “it is extremely unfortunate that we have reached this point.”
George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco, agrees mostly with the city’s assessment and current projections. While the current R0 score is just north of 1 – substantially lower than it was a week or so ago – the figures the city predicts for the near future are likely to still hold weight.
“They’ve been accurate in the past,” Rutherford says about projections up to 4-6 weeks in advance. “As you go further, everyone assumes. We use various inputs to get estimates of how things might be, [but] it’s not like we have a pool on it or we bet on it. They are intended for planning purposes. Yes [Colfax] is to put those numbers out, that’s what they’re planning. “
City officials are currently working to find the best way to bring about an increase in hospitalizations. Catherine Stefani announced on Thursday a 93-person low-capacity care center for non-COVID patients who will be released from hospital beds for coronavirus cases. And previously an additional floor has been opened for patients with COVID at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital.
As for what could happen later this year, Rutherford is less confident about city estimates. While the idea that an average of more than 750 people a day can be hospitalized is plausible, he is not so sure of the expected death toll of 600, although “it seems a bit far-fetched.”
“But if this starts to go back to old people’s homes or if we have so many young people infected, we see them spreading to the ICU and deadly banks which will be very problematic,” he adds.
What about these worse case numbers? Still hard to say. There is a possibility that this could happen, according to Rutherford, but that result is not true at this time. “That’s the problem with modeling too far,” he says, “you get numbers widely, but you have to plan something.”
All this, moreover, the future scenario of which Rutherford is very much concerned is not strictly about the coronavirus, but also about the flu. “Will everyone go slowly to get the flu and are we going to start flooding emergency services with people with the flu and people with COVID at the same time?”
It’s a scary thought, but he adds that the best way for Franciscan saints to avoid overwhelming hospitals is to follow the health department’s recommendations: do the things that are within their reach.
“They can stay home when they’re sick, they can avoid going inside, they can get the flu,” he says. “That’s what they can control.”
And they should follow the advice Colfax gave again this Thursday: “Wear a mask. It’s not that hard.”
Alyssa Pereira is a culture editor at SFGate. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @alyspereira