Supervisor Catherine Stefani and Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s Director of Health, today announced a new care site in the Presidio for patients without COVID-19 to free up hospital space as cases mount. 

The inpatient site, located at 1163-1167 Gorgas Ave. in the Presidio, can hold up to 93 people who no longer require acute medical care, but do need more treatment. The site will be staffed by Public Health and UCSF healthcare providers and funded by the city. 

Ailments like sprained ankles or recovery from minor infections might be reasons that other hospitals would refer discharged patients to the new site, Stefani said, noting the facility would be in her district, District 2. There, patients can access medical supervision, physical therapy and laboratory services.

“Unfortunately, other ailments are not going to stop just because of the pandemic,” said Stefani. “Opening this facility will allow our hospital to shore up our medical resources and bolster our hospital capacity. In doing so, we are proactively preparing for future COVID-19 surges.”

The move aims to alleviate hospital capacity, which underscores the burgeoning number of cases in San Francisco in recent weeks. Stefani solemnly reported that the reported number of positive COVID-19 cases across the city this week was 6,197. Most important, hospitalizations have increased steadily. 

The hospitals have 112 COVID-19 positive patients in acute and ICU care, as of July 27, the latest figures reported by DPH. That leaves 257 acute and ICU beds available. 

“We are in a major surge of COVID-19,” Colfax said. “If things continue at current rates, we estimate that on average we will have more than 750 San Franciscans in the hospital by mid-October and more than 600 deaths from COVID-19 in 2020.” 

Colfax said he hopes San Francisco doesn’t reach the point where the city needs to heavily rely on the Presidio care site. The site is already prepared to address incoming patients, though Colfax said it will not open immediately. 

The director also implored the public to do its part to keep cases and hospitalizations down by abiding by COVID-19 health guidelines. He referred to these several times, and the public now knows them by heart: wash hands, social distance, wear a mask, limit gatherings.

“I know you want to see schools open instead of medical sites,” Colfax said. “That depends on you.”

But despite being drilled with the proper comportment in a months-long pandemic, recently the infections in the state and in San Francisco have grown worse than they were earlier during shelter-in-place.

The daily infection count is nearing 100 per day now, keeping San Francisco in “the red zone” for more than a month and cementing it on the state’s watchlist, Colfax said. At the height of coronavirus infections in April, 94 San Franciscans were hospitalized, and six weeks ago there were 26. It’s a stark contrast today: there are 107 hospitalized patients, 25 percent of whom are in intensive care. 

“Unfortunately, that number is higher than it ever has been before, and continues to climb,” Colfax said. “It is extremely sobering that we have reached this point. It’s extremely concerning.”