With seven Bay Area counties besides Solano and Napa reporting COVID-19 data over the weekend, Sunday marked the first day since late March that there were no new deaths confirmed from the virus in the region. And between Friday and Saturday, only one new death occurred, bringing the current regional death toll to 390.
The positive news about virus spread being mitigated in the Bay Area due to social distancing measures has led counties to begin a new phase of economic reopening and easing lockdown orders. And a day without a death is certainly a regional milestone in the pandemic, and one that can hopefully be repeated in months to come — but it must of course be taken with a degree of clinical cynicism and a grain of salt.
San Francisco has not recorded a new death in a week now, since May 12, and that is also a milestone. It's the second week in May that we have been able to say that, as there were no new deaths between May 1 and May 7 either. The city's death toll now stands at 36, and on April 30 it was 32.
Hospitalizations across the Bay Area have remained flat or down in the last two weeks as well. 16 people were discharged from the hospital in Santa Clara County on Friday, according to county data. And the only county where hospitalizations increased significantly over the weekend was San Mateo, where 10 people were admitted between Saturday and Sunday — with 14 currently in ICU beds.
In San Francisco, there are currently 19 COVID patients in intensive care, and 34 others in acute care beds. An additional 31 suspected cases are awaiting test results in hospitals.
As testing has become more available, Bay Area counties have been adding new cases each day in the range of 2-percent to 4-percent increases over the last seven days. And for the last week, the overall regional case count has risen an average of 1.5% per day, or around 150 new cases per day across the nine counties.
In a briefing last week about the reopening of retail for curbside sales, SF's director of public health Dr. Grant Colfax called this "a meaningful step on the gradual path to the new normal."
But this is no time for relaxing into complacency!! In sobering comments about the gravity of the pandemic still facing us and these coming reopening phases, San Mateo County's health officer Dr. Scott Morrow was a bit less cheery.
"We are entering the period of trade-offs," he writes. "This period will require gut-wrenching decisions, both by policy makers as well as individuals and families, as we slowly reopen certain segments of society. This is a balancing act of the most unprecedented kind. You will have to make your own decisions as to the level of risk you and your family are willing to take on as the restrictions loosen. And your decisions are not yours alone as they will affect others in unpredictable ways."
The release of updated data from Napa and Solano counties Monday afternoon will confirm whether Sunday's zero-death milestone applies to all nine Bay Area counties, or just to seven.
Photo: Annie Spratt