The San Francisco Director of Public Health said at a morning press conference that cases and hospitalizations are surging in this city, and “if we do not do better, we are looking at major problems.”

Dr. Grant Colfax went on to describe a scenario in which San Francisco could have an average peak of 900 hospitalizations by early October. 

“And just to put this in some frame of reference, on our last surge in April, we peaked at 94 cases,” he said. “This average scenario of 900 cases is nearly 10 times worse. And it is certainly not the worst-case scenario that we could have by that time; models show that we could have thousands of hospitalized cases by then.”

The reproductive rate of the virus, cases, hospitalizations, and the length of time it is taking to get test results have all increased. 

All reopening measures have ground to a full stop. And rollbacks may be in the works if the numbers fail to improve, he said. 

Colfax began by talking about the reproductive rate, which the city estimates at 1.3 — meaning the average patient infects 1.3 other people. This means the problem is growing; any number above 1 is cause for concern. 

“If we do not do better, we are looking at major problems,” he said.

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“It is certainly possible if our conditions do not improve, a rollback may become necessary in San Francisco and other places in the Bay Area as well,” he said. 

Colfax blamed the increase on two factors — more gatherings and an increase in essential workers who are testing positive for the virus. He said the city was monitoring the precautions businesses are taking and urged residents to avoid large gatherings, wear masks and practice social distancing. 

Read an inspiring piece on Jose Montes and how he copes with the pandemic. 

Case rates, he said, have increased to 7.7 per 100,000. The goal is 1.8 per 100,000. Hospitalization rates are increasing at 33 percent, compared to the goal of no more than 10 percent, and the city’s supply of PPE, personal protective equipment, is down to 78 percent of where the city would want it to be. 

He blamed the decline in PPE to “increased national demand.” 

The county’s nine hospitals remained able to handle any immediate surge. “Right now,” he said. “we have 27 percent of our acute care beds available and 28 percent of our intensive care units available.”

In response to a question about outdoor dining and whether that would be shut down, Colfax said that it was clear indoor activities were riskier, but he said, “we are looking to determine if the increase is driven by outdoor dining.” 

He encouraged the public to call 311 if they saw restaurants not adhering to the safety protocols of making and distancing. 

“We have been and we continue to be in a period of uncertainty,” he said.  

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