The graph on the left shows the shrinking number of available hospital beds and the graph of the right, the increased acute and ICU beds taken up with COVID- 19.

Good morning Mission. And welcome to Virus Village, your daily data dump.

Hang on boys and girls, it’s going to be a rough ride.

Dr. Grant Colfax, the City’s Public Health Director, has just finished a press conference in which he warned the exponential rise in new infections and hospitalizations in recent weeks means “we are in a major surge of COVID-19. The virus is moving fast.”

Colfax also warned of a huge surge in hospitalizations. We have a new hospital graph which shows the shrinking availability of hospital beds.

Colfax’ warning comes in the wake of a reported increase in positive case totals as 226 more cases were added along with one new death. We haven’t seen numbers like that since April.

Remember these 226 cases are not from tests taken yesterday, but are results from tests taken over the past few days.

Has testing increased dramatically as well? No. The average number of daily tests has been declining since July 16. There has been more targetted testing in the Mission and Bayview-Hunters Point which has an effect, but does not nearly account for the growth in cases.

Scroll down for today’s numbers.

HiGeorge, a data visualization startup, developed some new visualizations for Mission Local, which we will be using and fine-tuning in the days to come. 

Our new graph shows the worrisome problem Colfax announced. If numbers approach anywhere near the numbers Colfax is projecting, our hospitals could easily be overwhelmed. Note, the numbers are the same from yesterday. No updates yet from DPH.

An additional 14 cases were added to the Mission, raising our total to 925.

Again, using the “more reliable” test results (meaning tests taken on those dates are more or less complete), the average number of new tests as of July 23 is around 98. Readers have asked if the Health Department is “playing games” with the figures. No. What we see is a result of the time it takes to get a swab from the nostril to the lab and then to the DPH dataset. This is an artifact of a weak testing infrastructure which is one reason the City has not been able to get the virus under control.

Positivity rates may look like they are flattening, but if so, they are “flattening” on a relatively high plateau. The average positivity rate in SF since late March has been 3 percent.

The R number estimate remains around 1.25 in San Francisco as it has been. R numbers have been falling in other Bay Area counties which is a relatively good sign. But overall, the number confirms Colfax’ warning: the virus continues to spread exponentially.

The Chronicle also had a piece about “low” death rates, with a number of explanations and theories for why this might be showing up. However, if the hospitals get overrun, you can throw all that out the window; the rate and the absolute number of deaths is going to shoot up. Colfax warned deaths could reach 600 by the end of the year.

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Mark Rabine has lived in the Mission for over 40 years. "What a long strange trip it's been." He has maintained our Covid tracker through most of the pandemic, taking some breaks with his search for the Mission's best fried-chicken sandwich and now its best noodles. When the Warriors make the playoffs, he writes up his take on the games.

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  1. @Todesgeliebter

    SF gov reports hospital bed availability here, but it looks like the data hasn’t been updated in about 10 days because of some federal regulation.

    Also, I’m not sure why Mission Local decided to split that information into two different charts of covid beds vs available beds. Maybe ’cause the covid numbers were only about 5% of the total available beds…? It definitely tells a different narrative when you see the beds being used for non-covid taking up about 48% of the capacity.

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  2. I really wish the SFDPH would report more data from whatever contact tracing investigations yield. For instance, how many cases are “community spread” vs. tied to a known COVId-19 cluster, and how those clusters break down in terms of likely site of infection. We’ve been getting very vague descriptions of essential workplaces and social gatherings from the state, but as an individual person trying to decide on what’s risky and not, that doesn’t help at all.

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  3. Hi,

    Can you help clarify something from the Hospital Bed graphs? I’m trying to parse the # of available beds, it looks like we had 900 to 1000 beds available in April, when we had about 120 patients. Now, we again have roughly 120 patience, but the available bed count is below 400. Can you help explain the differences in capacity between April and August?


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