Federal, state, and local officials have been avoiding talking about lockdowns in any American city, and a lockdown here is likely not going to look like the lockdown in Wuhan, but what could it look like?
The San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) is starting daily updates on COVID-19 cases, giving the updated number of local positive cases on its website each day at noon. Today's update brings the SF count to 13, up by five since Sunday.
On Sunday we learned that there were six additional cases here following the first two that were reported last week. One case is a man in his 90s, one is a woman in her 40s, and Sunday's cases spanned the age ranges of 20s to 50s, with three men and three women infected. There have been no deaths here yet, and all six of the cases on Sunday had contact with a previously confirmed COVID-19 case, according to the DPH. We've yet to learn any details on the latest five cases.
Whether drastic measures like those taken in China's Hubei province will be repeated anywhere in the United States remains to be seen, but at least one U.S. expert thinks that such strict lockdowns are unlikely here.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the widely quoted infectious disease expert, told Fox News Sunday that different cities may react different when it comes to movement-restricting policies. But, per the New York Times, he said, "I don’t think it would be as draconian as ‘nobody in and nobody out.'" Fauci says that more "mitigation" measures are likely, and Seattle has come to closest so far to having a widespread lockdown.
As Bloomberg reports today, a New England Journal of Medicine paper has traced the Seattle hot spot likely back to a single Patient Zero — the area man who returned from Wuhan, China on January 14 and began feeling sick several days later. They believe someone else was likely infected by the man almost immediately after his return, between January 15 and January 19 — and he took a group airport shuttle on his return from China. Within a month, the virus had made it to the nursing home where the majority of Washington State deaths have now occurred — and the case study in Seattle "shows the futility of travel bans" in the face of this virus, experts conclude.
Santa Clara County just announced its first death from the coronavirus — a woman in her 60s with chronic health issue who was the third reported case in the county who had been hospitalized for several weeks. As the Chronicle reports, the woman was the county's first documented case of community spread of the virus.
Meanwhile in Italy, Milan is in the second day of an unprecedented lockdown and restriction of movement for its 1.35 million citizens — and the country just extended the movement restrictions to all 60 million people in Italy. And the number of deaths in Italy from COVID-19 jumped by 97 on Monday, bringing the total deaths there to 463.
To put all of this in perspective, as the number of U.S. deaths from the virus rises to 26 in the U.S., it should be noted that the CDC estimates that there were over 34,000 deaths last year related to seasonal influenza. That is out of 35.5 million infections and an estimated 500,000 hospitalizations. The mortality rate for the coronavirus is likely to be higher overall, but it will vary by location and population, and won't likely be known for several months or more.
Worldwide, the death toll from the new virus stands at around 3,800, out of 110,000 confirmed cases. And experts say it is much more contagious than the average seasonal flu.