Today in COVID-19 news around the Bay Area and the state, San Francisco recorded two new deaths over the weekend, the daily rate of new cases across the region has remained steady for a month, and Governor Newsom warns of upticks as the economy reopens.
Newsom says "percent positives" across the state have dropped significantly: With testing now widespread throughout the state, it stands to reason that the percentage of people testing positive has sunk. But seeing it on a graph is fairly surprising. Since peaking on April 3 at almost 41% of people testing positive for the coronavirus, the rate has fallen to just 4.5% and has been steady there statewide since early May. Newsom stressed that this was no small news given that California represents a population equivalent to about 21 U.S. states.
By comparison, in San Francisco, the percent-positive figure was 4% in mid-May, and is down to 1% as of Friday.
Also, hospitalizations and ICU occupancy have remained steady, at least through June 11 — which marks two weeks since major protests began following the death of George Floyd, and 17 days after the Memorial Day holiday.
Nine counties are experiencing increased transmission: The state is focusing new attention on nine counties where infections appear to be on the rise, including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Imperial counties in Southern California, and Fresno and Tulare counties in the Central Valley. Newsom assured Californians that the state is prepared for surges, saying, "As we mix, as we reopen, inevitably we're going to see an increase in the total number of cases, [but] it's our capacity to address that that is so foundational."
In the Bay Area, case counts remain steady: New cases have ticked up an average of 1.6% in the Bay Area since May 15, and 1.6% was the exact rate of increase between May 15 and May 16, when we had almost 10,700 total cases. As of this writing, there are 17,467 cumulative cases in the Bay Area, and the region has averaged about 223 new cases per day over the last month. And as of today, there have been just under 500 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in the Bay Area. (See all local stats here.)
Hospitalizations remain steady around the Bay as well: In San Francisco, the census of COVID patients in city hospitals is down by 42 percent since mid-May, with 38 cases in hospitals as of Saturday. And even in harder-hit Alameda County, hospitalizations have ticked up only slightly, from around 80 a month ago, to 88 as of today.
Spread of the virus in homeless populations less than expected: Newsom also said in his address today, per KPIX, that only about 17% of the available rooms to house COVID-positive homeless people are in use. "That is good news, not bad news, because that means the rate of spread in those populations — at least those that we’ve identified — have not required us to isolate and quarantine as many people as we’d anticipated."
Not all COVID-19 antibodies are created equal: Researchers at Stanford and UCSF say they have isolated so-called "neutralizing antibodies," the kind that almost guarantee immunity in someone who has them — but they've only appeared in less than 5% of people who've been infected with SARS-CoV-2. Also, the human immune response appears to be wildly inconsistent, with some 10% to 20% of those infected never developing antibodies at all, and about 75% developing antibodies that may only confer temporary immunity. As the Chronicle reports, it's those rare, killer antibodies that will likely yield a vaccine through blood plasma.
A black skiing group collects itself and remembers those it lost: The National Brotherhood of Skiers — the largest group of black skiers in the country — ended up with dozens of members sick after a ski trip to Sun Valley, Idaho in late February, four of whom died. Now, as the Mercury News reports, surviving member Donnie Bruce talks about his experience being hospitalized.