The Mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, and the Director of Public Health, Dr. Grant Colfax, were again optimistic this week at their weekly pandemic press conference, mainly focusing on the current vaccine distribution process. However, Colfax cautioned that it will be at least a week or two before we get a better picture of the impact of gatherings and vacation travel over Christmas and New Years.
As in the previous week, Dr. Colfax continues to report an apparent flattening of cases and hospital stays in the city, but insisted “we won’t know until mid-January” if there will be another spike because of the vacation. San Francisco currently has 35% capacity in intensive care units (ICUs) compared to just 5.9% in the Bay Area – and until the regional average rises above 15% capacity, the state-mandated home-stay order will become do not be raised.
Colfax made it clear that one reason San Francisco has increased hospital capacity may have to do with seasonal slumps in elective surgery.
Breed and Colfax discussed introducing vaccinations at Laguna Honda Hospital and elsewhere in town, and Breed got Dr. Joshua Adler from UCSF to discuss how the vaccines will be distributed there. Dr. Adler said UCSF now vaccinates 1,100 people a day, and they hope to increase that number in the coming weeks – with healthcare workers first for vaccination. He also said that manufacturers’ vaccine shipments have so far kept pace with the speed at which UCSF has been able to vaccinate people.
Dr. Colfax said the Department of Health has so far vaccinated about 6,000 people between Zuckerberg SF General Hospital, Laguna Honda and other locations in the city system. Vaccines were given Monday at Laguna Honda, where over 700 elderly and frail patients live, and the first round of dosing is expected to be completed for any residents who wish them by Wednesday.
Jasper Harris from Laguna Honda is alive after receiving his vaccine. Photo: SF Public Health Department
Breed shared a few photos of Laguna Honda residents who received their vaccination shots, including the one shown above by Jasper Harris. “He had to deal with isolation and separation [in this pandemic]”Saed Breed.” Thanks to the Laguna Honda staff, he is alive and well and can get the vaccine. “
While it can take months for widespread vaccinations to happen across the city and demand now far outweighs supply, Dr. Colfax: “We expect anyone who wants a vaccine to get one at some point, and we’re going to work together … to make that happen.”
Once the city completes Phase 1A of the distribution process, Phase 1B begins, with the state dictating which groups are next in line for vaccines. This stage is likely to include people over the age of 75, as well as educators and key frontline workers such as grocery store workers.
As of Tuesday, there were 24,564 cumulative, documented cases of COVID-19 in San Francisco, and 198 people have died – four more since Monday. The new daily case count was 156 today, but Colfax was discussing a daily average of just over 200, or about 27 new cases per day per 100,000 population. That’s an increase of 6 new cases per 100,000 in late October and 15 per day in late November, as shown in a graph Colfax shared last week.
See today’s full briefing below.
Previously: Colfax sounds happier as it delivers the final 2020 COVID update and discusses SF Outlook
Above: Medical staff at work in an intensive care unit in Houston, Texas, in early December. Photo by Go Nakamura / Getty Images