Mayor London Breed and Dr. Grant Colfax took to Zoom again on Tuesday to give a press briefing on where things stand with the pandemic in San Francisco. And for a change — for the first time in two months really — the news was fairly good.
Colfax noted that new cases in San Francisco were rising on average about 8% per day two weeks ago, when the city and four other Bay Area counties enacted stay-at-home orders ahead of an expected order from the state that ultimately came last week. Now new cases in SF are rising at 2% per day, he said, which Colfax attributes to the order. (By SFist's math, the average daily increase in cases in SF has averaged 1.38% since December 1, with the largest single-day increase being 2.15% on December 18.)
Colfax also pointed to a decrease in the reproductive rate of the virus in the city, which was 1.45 on December 6, and was down to 1.24 on December 20.
"Our stay at home orders are starting to have an effect," Mayor London Breed said during the conference. "But we also know that the number of cases of people in the hospital remain as high as they have ever been and we are in a very dangerous place if we get a post-holiday surge."
As of Sunday there were 182 COVID patients in SF hospitals, down from 184 the day before — two of the highest COVID census counts in local hospitals since the pandemic began. ICUs in San Francisco have not yet been filled, though they have been — or are coming close — in neighboring counties.
"Changing our behavior can have a tremendous impact on the spread of the virus,” Colfax said. "Let’s keep up what we are doing and slow this virus. Let’s not have the situation that we had right after Thanksgiving, a massive surge that increased cases by 50 percent."
Anecdotally we know that many travelers are moving through SFO this week, and it's anyone's guess where the virus will surge next, or if it will land back here in greater numbers in January due to people traveling round trip back here.
Breed made sure not to sound any notes of celebration given a potential surge to come, and hundreds of new cases being recorded in the city each day.
"We are in a very dangerous place if we get a post-holiday surge," she said. "I don't want to look someone in the eye and say that their mom or dad died because we didn't have space in our hospitals for them, that we couldn't give them a fighting chance. So as you make your choices this holiday, please think about that."