San Francisco has just seen its two highest weekly totals of new coronavirus infections since the pandemic began, with over 1,500 new confirmed cases each week since December 1, and the surge shows no signs of slowing as we enter a second week under stay-at-home orders. Hospitalizations continue to rise in the city and the region, and the Bay Area tallied nearly 20,000 new positive cases in each of the last two weeks.
The monotonous parade of numbers that we've heard since March can tend to be numbing, and it's natural to want to tune it out. But while businesses are suffering under new restrictions and San Franciscans are staring down a holiday season with no communal festivities, it's important to remember why we're making these sacrifices — and the numbers continue to be sobering if not downright scary.
As of Monday morning, San Francisco has had 18,645 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March — and likely thousands more have gone undetected. Four of the highest single-day case totals have come in the last seven days, each with over 300 new cases, and the seven-day total comes to 1,577 cases, with 1,546 cases recorded the previous week.
The Bay Area's cumulative total rose from 152,899 cases on November 30 to 192,094 cases as of Monday morning, a jump of over 39,000 cases in 14 days. If experts' predictions hold true, that will translate to around 4,700 COVID-positive patients requiring hospital care between now and Christmas. Compare that to the 1,451 confirmed and suspected COVID patients in Bay Area hospitals as of Saturday, and you can see why public health officials and Governor Gavin Newsom have been hitting the panic button. [Update: As of Sunday, there were 1,555 COVID patients in Bay Area hospitals, a jump of 153 patients between Friday and Sunday.]
The Bay Area region, which for the state's purposes under the latest framework also includes Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, has not dipped below the 15% threshold of ICU bed availability that would trigger regional stay-at-home orders, though we are getting close. KRON4 reported that the region hit 16% bed availability on Friday, while later they reported that availability was just above 17%. Hitting that threshold, which is likely to happen within a day or two, will mean that Napa, Solano, and San Mateo counties, along with Santa Cruz and Monterey, will have to join in the stricter stay-at-home measures that most of the Bay Area already enacted last week.
The picture in some counties and across the state is even more grim than in San Francisco, where there are still only 38 people in ICU beds and 154 COVID patients hospitalized overall. Santa Clara County has 465 hospitalized COVID patients, 106 of those in ICU beds as of Saturday — and the county added a staggering 2,029 new confirmed cases to its total on Sunday. Statewide, there have been over 360,000 new cases added in the last 14 days, and hospitalizations have risen 58% since the beginning of the month from 8,240 to over 13,000. 21,049 people have died of COVID-19 in California, and nearly 1,900 of those deaths have occurred in the last two weeks.
"We are facing the reality that we won't be able to treat people who are sick, and that more people will die unnecessarily," said Mayor London Breed during a December 4 press briefing in which she announced that San Francisco would be opting into the state's stay-at-home order early.
As officials have been saying for a month now, the worst is yet to come, and we likely haven't seen it yet given all of the above. And for all the backlash that has been happening over the shutdown of businesses, it remains a fact of this virus that the only way it stops spreading is people stop moving and don't leave the house, full stop.