Good morning, Mission, and welcome to Virus Village, your (somewhat regular) Covid-19 data dump.

As infections and positivity rates take off, local hospitalizations remain relatively subdued, mostly flat for the week. R Number models show substantial and increasing transmission rates.

Wow. What a weird winter solstice. How weird? Take a peek into the mind of local covid guru, University of California, San Francisco doctor Bob Wachter. He’s done a lot of 25-tweet threads during the pandemic, but none as revealing as this. Not to worry, omicron hasn’t dulled Wachter’s sense of humor.

Of course, Wachter can count and, as a hospitalist, he’s concerned high community spread will mean that hospitals get overrun, even if omicron proves less severe and the vaccines hold up.

A related problem: Drugs that used to work in hospitals to treat severe cases (like Trump’s) no longer do, and the drug that does work is in short supply.

The CDC has lowered its standard of isolation/quarantine for healthcare workers after exposure or testing positive the virus. The NFL has also lowered its standard, after declaring that players who test positive but are asymptomatic do not spread the virus.

And then there’s this poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, showing vaccinated people are more worried than unvaccinated people that they will come down with serious covid. In what might be considered the understatement of the year, covid celeb Ashish K. Jha comments: “Our messaging on the power of vaccines to protect people from serious illness has gone wrong somewhere.”

Apparently, the power of T-cells and B-cells has not made it into the mainstream collective consciousness.

It’s taken almost two years of pointless “mask” wars before our public health leaders have finally endorsed loudly, without equivocation, the use of high-quality masks, most especially N95s. Why these have not been widely touted and provided (free) is beyond me. Every study I’ve seen since April, 2020 — clinical, mechanical, lab, or real-world — has shown their efficacy against aerosols. Since we are where we are in time and space, I suspect the reason for silence has something to do with money.

The lack of access to rapid tests is the latest in a long line (very long line) of testing failures since the pandemic broke out. The incompetency is awesome. But even rapid tests have their limits, especially since omicron contagion apparently comes on faster than its antecedents, making it harder to catch before spreading.

Recent numbers from NYC and the UK confirm the trends seen so far: That, despite exponentially increasing infection numbers, omicron hospitalizations for severe disease remain low. The infection fatality rate is even lower.

Scroll down for today’s covid numbers.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control data used for the chart lags behind the data supplied from the San Francisco Department of Public Health. As of Dec. 23, DPH reports more than 87 percent of all San Francisco residents have received one dose, and over 80 percent have received two. For residents 5 and older, DPH reports the figures rise above 90 percent and above 84 percent and over 90 percent of those 65 and older have received two doses. SFDPH reports that as of Dec. 23, approximately 354,418 residents have received a COVID-19 booster dose including 73 percent of residents 65 and over, 59 percent for those 50-64, 54 percent for those 35-49 and 39 percent for those 16-34. For information on where to get vaccinated in and around the Mission, visit our Vaccination Page.

On Dec. 20, DPH reports there were 36 covid hospitalizations, or about 4.1 per 100,000 (based on an 874,000 population). For over two months, DPH has failed to report on hospitalizations among those who used to be considered “fully vaxxed”. In New York City, not only are hospitalizations broken out by vaxxed and unvaxxed, but also by age and race/ethnicity.

The latest report from the federal Department of Health and Human Services shows Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital with 6 covid patients and 5 ICU beds available, while across the Mission, CPMC had 5 covid patients and 4 ICU beds available. Of 45 reported covid patients, 28 were at either SFGH or UCSF, with at least 60 ICU beds available among reporting hospitals (which does not include the Veterans Administration). The California DPH currently reports  84 ICU beds available in San Francisco. SFDPH won’t say.

Note: DPH uses dated population figures for neighborhoods. Between Oct. 20 and Dec. 19, DPH recorded 345 infections in the Mission or a rate of approximately 59 per 10,000 residents. During that period, Sunset/Parkside was the only other neighborhood with more than 300 infections (321), and 17 SF neighborhoods had rates of 60 or more infections per 10,000 residents. The Marina continues to lead by infection rate, with a rate of 111 per 10,000 residents, the only neighborhood in excess of 100 infections per 10,000 residents.

On Dec. 16, the 7-day average of daily new infections in the City was 161 or approximately 18.4 new cases per day per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population). The 7-day average infection rate among vaccinated (not boosted) residents was 16.7 per 100,000 vaccinated residents and for unvaccinated residents,  32.7 per 100,000 unvaccinated residents. Note: The New York Times is reporting a substantially higher number with a daily average of 323 as of December 23.

As of Dec. 19, DPH recorded 1,190 infections in December among Whites, 45.2 percent of the total December infections, Asians 536, 20.3 percent, Latinxs 383, 14.5 percent, Blacks 132, 5.0 percent, Muti-racials 44, 1.7 percent, Native Americans 11, .4 percent, and Pacific Islanders recorded 18 December infections or .7 percent of the total December infections.

The average city-wide positivity rate surpassed 3 percent for the first time since August 25.

One more covid-related death has been recorded in December. Of those San Franciscans who died covid-related deaths, approximately 3.1 percent had no underlying conditions.

R Number models now reflect the higher transmission rates for omicron.  Covid R Estimation raised its San Francisco R Number to a very high 2.1 (the only county in the state at or above 2) and estimates the California R Number at 1.5. The ensemble raised its average for the  San Francisco R Number to 1.48, while posting an average California R Number of 1.22.

As of Dec. 19, DPH has recorded 0 infections and 1 covid-related death in nursing homes (“skilled nursing facilities”) so far in December. In SROs (Single Room Occupancy hotels) 26 infections and 0 covid-related deaths, and among those unhoused, 15 infections have been recorded so far this month.

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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. I look at the hospitalization and death rates with sanguine hope, but it’s remarkable how in the span of a week we are more than 1/2 way to our peak rate in January 21. Our R rate is humbling, the county that led the way…

    I still have my quaint reasons for preferring not to get omicron and so I am puzzling out this afternoon when to run for cream and avocados, and maybe a Costco chicken, today braving the last minute crowds, Saturday, a weekend and um, boxing day I guess when all the returns are made, or next Monday and Tuesday when everyone in the city has omicron?

  2. Not sure where you get your stats but this is what the New York Times reports as of 12/23: Daily case average over past two weeks: 323; percent increase from two weeks ago: 253%. On 12/20: 796 new cases. On 12/23: 722 new cases. Increase since two weeks ago in hospitalizations: +43%. Deaths in the last two weeks: 6. Total cases: 60,608 reported cases. I trust the New York Times more than our very lame DPH.

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