UCSF Department of Medicine Chair Dr. Bob Wachter — who, during the pandemic, has become a touchstone on Twitter for understanding the current state of the COVID-19 health crisis — noted on Thursday that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has been steadily rising, though it’s not likely to overwhelm SF hospitals.
The Omicron variant is now the second-most contagious virus... on the entire planet. It, too, has been responsible for upending celebrations and gatherings as of late; New Year’s Eve saw a slew of postponements and cancellations with event organizers citing a need to practice an abundant amount of caution as the Variant of Concern (VOC) continues spreading.
Let's turn to SF – the case curve continues to head straight north, with no sign of abating. Here you see that it's up 10-fold in a few wks, & this # of 495/d understates the magnitude of the surge for several reasons: 1) there's a lag (it's from a few days ago); 2) with...(9/12) pic.twitter.com/JuTkaX8aoh— Bob Wachter (@Bob_Wachter) December 31, 2021
And as Dr. Bob Wachter pointed out Thursday, San Francisco will inevitably see an increase in COVID-19-related hospitalization cases — before, per Wachter's earlier sentiment, the Omicron variant could make COVID-19 become "like the flu" later in 2022.
“Be super careful — it’s raining COVID,” Wachter tweeted, noting that UCSF hospitals were “now seeing undeniable hospital surge."
At the time of publishing, there are a reported 64 COVID-19-related hospitalizations in San Francisco — a nearly two-fold increase over last week, where the figure oscillated between 32 and 34 coronavirus infections that required hospitalization.
According to the professor, some hospitalized patients were originally admitted for different reasons... and, upon testing, they just so happened to give a positive result for coronavirus. That said: Wachter said the spike remains an unignorable sign that the pandemic might worsen in the coming weeks, especially in places where vaccination rates are comparatively low.
Even in places with high vaccination rates, like San Francisco, they could see an alarming uptick in hospitalizations—but these surges aren't likely to completely overwhelm hospitals in those highly vaccinated metros.
... South Africa falling rapidly after 4-6 weeks, it seems like a highly vaccinated city like SF will be able to survive a similarly short surge without being overwhelmed. In less vaccinated (& mask-y) cities/regions, I'd be far more apprehensive.(12/end) https://t.co/Xue08pW3Ax— Bob Wachter (@Bob_Wachter) December 31, 2021
“It says to me that if even in highly vaxxed SF, our hospitals will be stretched, hospitals in cities (with) lower vax rates are likely to be hammered,” he later tweeted. "South Africa falling rapidly after 4-6 weeks, it seems like a highly vaccinated city like SF will be able to survive a similarly short surge without being overwhelmed."
One subjective positive observation: This modest growth in hospitalizations — the current figures some five times less than the COVID-19-related hospitalizations recorded in SF around this time last year — is far less severe than San Francisco’s sharp rise in the city's seven-day rolling average of new cases, which presently sits at 639.
Related: Top UCSF Doc Says That We Could Be in ‘A Pretty Good Situation in February’ Where COVID Is ‘Like the Flu’
Photo: Medical personnel secure a sample from a person at a drive-thru Coronavirus COVID-19 testing station at a Kaiser Permanente facility on March 12, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Kaiser Permanente has opened a drive-thru Coronavirus test station where patients who are exhibiting signs and symptoms of the Coronavirus can be referred by a physician to be tested. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)