San Francisco will run out of ICU beds in 17 days if the current infection rate remains stable, the San Francisco Department of Health director said on Wednesday.
“That’s when things don’t get worse and they can do very well,” said Dr. Grant Colfax at a virtual press conference.
Colfax urged residents to stay home, saying avoiding contact with others was “probably the most important message” he has tried to convey since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“To be honest, we have a chance to reverse this serious increase and that chance is now,” he said. “But our window narrows and closes quickly.”
He said coronavirus cases have “exploded” since Thanksgiving, and the numbers are increasing by the hour.
The reproduction rate for the virus in San Francisco is now 1.5, which means that every person who gets it will infect 1.5 others. If that rate doesn’t go down, the number of hospital residents with COVID-19 will increase ten-fold by early February, he said.
Models also show that it is “plausible” that in addition to the 164 who have already succumbed to the disease, an additional 1,500 residents will die, Colfax warned. Bending the rules will have more serious consequences now than at any point during the pandemic as the virus is much more common, he said.
“The virus is right now all over our city and in so many parts of the city that it has never been seen before,” Colfax said. “Activities with an even lower risk now involve a considerable risk…. We can’t get away with things that we could get away with before. “
He said the city will receive 12,000 doses of vaccine at the first allotment, likely by December 15. The cans would go to acute hospitals and some nursing homes, he said. The spread is widespread in spring or summer, he added.
Last Friday, San Francisco and four other Bay Area counties announced they were issuing a preventive home stay order. The hospitals are so overcrowded that they have to act immediately instead of waiting for the region to cross the state threshold for such a directive.
In California, regions of the state where ICUs are busy at 15% or less capacity are subject to state orders.
Speaking at the meeting, Colfax said the ICU capacity in the city could drop to 15% this week. Thirty Franciscans are now in intensive care units and the number has “increased dramatically each day”.
Mayor London Breed, who also spoke at the press conference, praised the state’s decision to allow playgrounds to be reopened, but warned that children should only be accompanied by an adult, people should stay half a meter apart and everyone should be aged 2 and over Years should wear masks.
She said visits should be limited to 30 minutes, no one should eat or drink in a playground, and everyone should sanitize their hands before and after visiting a playground.
“Our playgrounds are no excuse for you to hang out with a number of other families,” said Breed.
Last Thursday, Breed issued a statement of regret after it was reported that she had dinner with seven others at the French laundry with seven others in early November, the day after Governor Gavin Newsom made an infamous visit to the posh Napa Valley restaurant.
“The urgency of our public health message at this moment has never been so dire and my actions have distracted from it,” she said.