Mayor handing out PPE
Pie de foto: La alcaldesa Breed le entrega una bolsa con equipo protectivo a Elizabeth Vásquez de Tío Chilo's Grill. Foto de Juan Carlos Lara. Mayor Breed hands a bag of PPE to Elizabeth Vasquez of Tio Chilo's Grill. Photo by Juan Carlos Lara.

San Francisco has seen a recent 29 percent uptick in Covid-19 hospitalizations, Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax and Mayor London Breed said Tuesday. While hospitals currently have enough capacity to accept new patients, the mayor and doctor warned that it’s as urgent as ever to continue social-distancing and masking. 

“If we don’t [mask, keep six feet apart, avoid large gatherings] the virus speeds up. It’s really that simple,” Colfax said. “Let’s crush that curve in the fall.” 

The latest data shows that as of last weekend, there are 76 total patients compared to 51 on Sept. 4. The goal is to keep covid hospitalization below an increase of 10 percent. 

The doctor mentioned how San Franciscans flattened the curve twice before, only to have it surge again. Hospitalizations first dropped from a high of 90 in May to about 31 in June. Then hospitalizations surged again in July, peaking at approximately 111 before falling back down to 51 in September, data showed. 

Covid-related Labor Day weekend data is still being analyzed. However, experts said the three day Labor Day weekend could have potentially had a similar impact as Memorial Day weekend, which caused a surge. 

“We can do this,” Colfax said. “We’ve done it twice, we can do it again.” 

The plea comes on the heels of a slew of reopenings that began on Sept. 14, including indoor operations of personal care services like salons and outdoor gyms with limited capacity. 

Community learning hubs that provide in-person help to students for their Zoom classes also opened, which Mayor Breed called a “small glimmer of hope.” 

The mayor emphasized that once the city maintains its health goals, other facets of life can begin to restart, such as elementary schools with health and safety plans.

If all goes well, non-San Francisco Unified School District schools will reopen on Sept. 21 for students up to sixth grade, according to the city’s reopening plan.  

“I know that people are tired. But unfortunately, this is a deadly virus,” Breed said. “What we don’t want to see is our bad behavior impact them. We don’t want to roll back the clock.” 

Though the reopening has offered relief to some small business owners, many have already experienced huge losses and even closure, Breed said. The latest worry for some is the business rent moratorium, which was originally set to expire on Sept. 14, but was then extended by city leaders until the end of the month. Future payment extensions depend on the governor and state, she said. 

Next week, more re-openings are planned, including aquariums, zoos, museums.

The move to gradually reopen society has been based on “data, science and facts” Colfax said, and stability within the five key indicators: testing, hospitalization, cases, contact tracing, and available personal protective equipment. 

As of today, 10,430 San Franciscans have been diagnosed with covid and 91 have died. Though the average cases per day is slowly decreasing, the current average of 61 daily cases keeps us in the “red-zone” or at “substantial risk.” 

Latinx residents continue to make up nearly 51 percent of all positive cases in the city, Colfax said. They also make up nearly half of all city isolation and quarantine beds. 

In collaboration with community-based organizations and efforts, the Department of Public Health has addressed this disparity making 50 percent of its contact tracers bilingual and finding new ways to mobilize resources into the Southeast sector, where residents are disproportionately affected. 

The rest of the key factors such as test turnaround, available PPE, contact tracing, and case investigation are “steady.” The city testing system is now delivering covid results within 36 hours, Colfax said. Contact tracers are able to track down 82 percent of covid-positive cases and 82 percent of their contacts, compared to its 90-percent goal. 

“I ask you to continue doing your part,” Breed said. “What you do impacts me, and what I do impacts you.”

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REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

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  1. we need to emphasize deaths and longterm health downturns. Maybe that will effect change in folks around SF. Right now, you still got Dolores Park has an effective party world on nice days.

  2. i know its hard for things not to be open.
    but people that say that we should just open up, are really just being selfish.
    we either stop this thing or not.

    countries that have a sense of community, self discipline and sacrifice were able to get cases down to near zero and are back to somewhat normal life.

    but in places like here, where people are self centered, blinded by consumerism, and have a false sense of entitlement, we just keep going back and forth on infection rates.

    let’s do what we have to, for all of us.

    1. You will never get cases down to near zero! That’s the point!!! Those who call for a continuation of the lockdown are the ones being selfish here.

      We need to let all our businesses open back up in a safe way while protecting high risk communities. It’s not an “either/or” question!! Or rather it shouldn’t be if we had a competent public health leader and a mayor who had even half a clue of what is going on…but we have neither.

    2. Uh … Duh.
      Are you saying the way over represented Latinx Community relative to the pandemic is self centered, blinded by consumerism, and have a false sense of entitlement?
      Or are they forced to work, live in crowded conditions and obviously have not had a full throttle effort from The City to stop the thing in The Mission.

  3. we just reopened more businesses only two days ago so we cannot attribute that to the hospitalization rate. Is the uptick in hospitalizations have anything to do with poor air quality. it looks like our daily case count is on a downward trend. many of us if we can’t get back to work soon our health plans will be severely compromised. what do we tell covered california our pay will be if we don’t know? we don’t even know how much much unemployment we are going to get or not. many service workers will lose our covered california mra plan if we don’t get back to our jobs. our health will be compromised further because of the length of this lockdown. there are so many factors other than our “behavior” that is not being reported and overlooked. please consider what we can do about these issues other than the same we’ve been doing for months only to be told we’re not doing it enough. the residents in sf have been doing all we can this whole time. we have done far more than most cities in the usa and we continue to be punished and blamed by politicians and health officials. meanwhile more city officials are getting arrested by the fbi for fraud. what is really going on here?

  4. SF is reopening again this week. We saw the surge happen in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and to a lesser extent, California after re-opening in May and June with many people seen in large gatherings not wearing masks and social distancing. The cases and deaths rose quickly so we had to shutdown again in July. We are all for reopening again but we should also strive to keep the cases from climbing so quickly that the hospital beds fill to capacity as they did in cities in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and southern California in June.

    SF cases and deaths have been low in comparison. I don’t hear Colfax and Breed saying that we must totally eliminate the virus or that no one must test positive. They are requesting us to help with keeping SF cases and deaths low even as we reopen by following the recommendations for wearing masks and social distancing.

    1. You miss the point – we’ve never seen a surge in the Bay Area to justify the draconian lockdown being sustained beyond April. Colfax will counter with “yes, that’s because our conservative approach has kept the numbers down, we loosen any of that we’ll be swamped by the virus…”.

      Well, no actually. If our data collection, testing and analysis was where it should be there could be a much more nuanced and targeted containment strategy in operation that would control the virus in the high risk communities while allowing everyone else to try and get back to normal in a safe way.

      But Colfax, and the state, have done such a bad job in assessing the risks and threats that they have no other solution than an incredibly damaging blunderbuss approach that hurts way more people than it saves. For example, how many more changes in tracking metrics are we going to see rolled out to try and justify the continual lockdown? It’s a total farce. Case count numbers mean nothing when you have such a poor testing capability.

      And yet we let him and Breed get away with absolute murder on this because apparently it’s all based on “data and science” and “they know best”. I’m calling BS on that. Recall Breed and fire Colfax NOW.

  5. But also read this from Heathline:

    “Why Sweden’s COVID-19 Strategy Can’t Work in the U.S.”

    Whose main points are:

    –Sweden is more sparsely populated than the United States — even more so if you look at New York City, which was especially hard-hit by the new coronavirus.

    –Over half of Swedes live in single-person households, which makes it easier to do physical distancing. Compare this with the United States, where just 28 percent of adults live alone. And many Americans live in multigenerational households, where the new coronavirus can easily spread from young people to older adults.

    –The United States has higher rates of chronic diseases that increase the risk of severe COVID-19.

    –Swedes have government-funded universal healthcare.

    –The Swedish government provides paid sick leave, which encourages people to stay home when they’re sick — a key step in slowing the spread of the new coronavirus

    – [perhaps most important] The majority of Swedes have high confidence in their public health agencies and the scientists who run them … As a result, many Swedes voluntarily follow the COVID-19 guidelines put forth by their government.

    I’d add that the Swedes are more culturally homogenuous, so they can see eye to eye on solutions to problems having to do with the well-being of the whole social body.

    1. James typed; “many Swedes voluntarily follow the COVID-19 guidelines put forth by their government.”

      Yes but that’s just it – there were damn few measures “put forth by the government” in Sweden. No masks. Schools and businesses never closed at all. Even their “suggested” social distance was 4 feet not 6. It’s not like the Swedes “ate their greens” for a few months or weeks and then got let off for good behavior – they never DID any of the lockdown measures to start with.

      Sweden ripped the band aid off and that’s their secret. They knew the virus was gonna virus and they tried to protect their vulnerable people until the virus burned out which it now has.

      Our duplicitous Public officials, including Mayor Breed, told us we needed to protect our hospitals. We have done so and they will not be threatened. 15 days to flatten the curve has morphed into no one must test positive. This lockdown madness must end, now.

  6. “Crush the curve in the Fall”…What curve?! What strategy is this idiot Colfax following here? Total elimination of the virus?! SF’s Covid hospitalization and death rates are So low it’s impossible to keep justifying a nonsense one size fits all lockdown strategy that does nothing to help the hardest hit community (Latino) while preventing everyone else to open back up safely and save their livelihoods in the process.

    Are we allowed to even question Breed on this? If so, why is no one speaking up and demanding the truth? We get the same nonsense from her every week. It’s absolutely disgraceful.

    Maybe they should read this: