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

The virus is on the move around the country, especially in the Bay Area and at 24th and Mission, where the positivity rate among those tested has reached 19 percent. Hospitalizations, recorded infections and positivity rates continue climbing, while R Number estimates and wastewater monitoring, though somewhat mixed, confirm increasing circulation.

Covid celebrity Ezekiel Emanuel begins a recent op-ed by writing, “The Covid-19 pandemic is over. That is what most Americans seem to believe as they cram together for Formula One in Miami, sell out basketball stadiums and fill restaurants without masks.” I wonder why “most Americans” believe this. Is it, as officials adamantly assert, “pandemic fatigue,” or is it because the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says “your health is in your hands,” or because the same CDC, taking a page out of the Trump playbook, simply changes its metric (or color coding), or because the authorities and their corporate stenographers party like it’s 1999, or because expert celebrities tell us not to worry, or because we have “The Tools”?

Or because the President tells states and cities to spend funds allocated for covid control on law enforcement (i.e. more cops)? The White House says additional funding is needed for vaccine and treatment development, but the nasty Republicans are blocking it. Yes, the Republicans are nasty, but what are they to think, what are we to think, when the President chooses to fund weapons and cops over public health? And declines to make use of his emergency powers?

At least one expert calls it for what it seems: capitulation.

Perhaps the virus is no big deal, as long as hospitals are not overloaded. That may be true from the pecuniary perspective of VCs and hospital execs but, as covid journalist Ed Yong writes, “The ordeals of the past two years have tipped the system — and its people — into a chronic, cumulative state of overload … ”

What about “The Tools”? As we now know, The Vaccine’s protection against infection wanes rather quickly, and how much protection the booster adds is unclear, especially after infection. The Vaccine also wanes with respect to protecting against severe illness and hospitalization. A recent study shows a significant drop within three months for two or three shots.

Also a “rebound effect” has been observed in the Pfizer anti-viral Paxlovid. Exactly what this means and why it’s happening remains a mystery. Paxlovid seems to be still working for people with moderate symptoms.

Some places in the world still believe fighting the virus is worthwhile (how retro!). The Chinese model won’t work in the U.S., but the Chinese are learning more about the effects of the virus, as well as how to minimize the effects of China’s stringent policies.

Meanwhile, the virus and its variants are turning cartwheels with enhanced immune evasion and repeated re-infection. It also appears, in the U.S. as well as China, the post-infection effects of the virus are greater than previously thought (or dismissed).

Scroll down for today’s covid numbers.

Over the past week, hospitalizations have risen another 16 percent (representing 9 new patients) On May 14, DPH reports there were 65 covid hospitalizations, or about 7.4 covid hospitalizations per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population). Only one new covid patient was reported in ICU. On May 17, the California Department of Public Health reported 76 covid patients in SF hospitals and 8 ICU patients. There has been some criticism of our chart. We are looking into it.

The latest report from the federal Department of Health and Human Services shows Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital with 8 covid patients and 10 ICU beds available, while across the Mission, CPMC had 6 covid patients and 5 ICU beds available. Of 63 reported covid patients in the City, 21 were at either SFGH or UCSF, with at least 81 ICU beds available among reporting hospitals (which does not include the Veterans Administration or Laguna Honda). The California DPH currently reports 92 ICU beds available in San Francisco.

Between March 14 and May 13, DPH recorded 784 new infections among Mission residents or 133 new infections per 10,000 residents. During that period, Mission Bay had the highest rate at 241 new infections per 10,000 residents. Of 38 neighborhoods, 33 had rates at or above 100 per 10,000 residents, with 14 in the east and southeast sectors of the City. Treasure Island had the lowest rate and Lakeshore, the only neighborhood in the City with less than 50 percent of its population vaccinated, had the second lowest rate though both showed increases over last week.

DPH reports on May 10, the 7-day average of daily new infections recorded in the City rose to 418 or approximately 47.8 new infections per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population), representing a 48 percent rise from last week. According to DPH, the 7-day average infection rate among vaccinated residents was 43.7 per 100,000 “fully vaccinated” residents and 102 per 100,000 unvaccinated residents. It is unclear whether “fully vaccinated” means 2, 3 or 4 doses. According to the New York Times the 7-day average number on May 10 was 370. The latest report from the Times says the 7-day average on May 17 was 503, a 43 percent rise over the past two weeks. State wastewater monitoring shows at the City’s Southeast sewer shed, prevalence of the virus is either slowly rising or flat depending on the source and what is being measured.

May numbers for race and ethnicity recorded infections will not be available until May 20. Based on group population, since the beginning of the pandemic, Pacific Islanders have had a recorded infection rate of 4,427 per 10,000 residents, Latinxs 2,477, Native Americans 2,013, Blacks 1,832, Asians 980 and White San Franciscans have had a rate of 943 recorded infections per 10,000 residents.

The 7-day rolling Citywide average positivity rate rose over 13.3 percent during the past week, while average daily testing rose 6.2 percent. Over the past two months, the Mission positivity rate has been 6.2 percent according to DPH. During that time, Hayes Valley had the highest rate at 8.4 percent, while Seacliff had the lowest rate at 4.6 percent.

Vaccination rates in SF show virtually no change from last week. As of May 17, over 90 percent of all San Franciscans aged 5 and older have received at least one dose of The Vaccine, and 88 percent have received two. 75 percent of residents aged 12 and over have received a booster.

For information on where to get vaccinated in and around the Mission, visit our Vaccination Page.

Six new covid-related deaths, including 3 in May, have been reported, bringing the total since the beginning of the year to 178. DPH won’t say how many were vaccinated. Nor does it provide information on the race/ethnicity or socio-economic status of those who have recently died. According to DPH “COVID-19 deaths are suspected to be associated with COVID-19. This means COVID-19 is listed as a cause of death or significant condition on the death certificate.” Using a phrase like “suspected to be associated with” indicates the difficulty in determining a covid death. The fog gets denser as DPH reports, as it has for months, only 21 of the deaths are known to have had no underlying conditions, or comorbidities.

The lack of data makes R Number estimates very uncertain. Covid R Estimation on May 13 estimated the San Francisco R Number had risen to 1.59 while the estimate for the California R Number rose to 1.57 on May 16. The ensemble, as of May 14, dropped its estimate of the San Francisco R Number to .96 while lowering its California R Number slightly to .98. Note: Most models in the ensemble show SF over 1, while two models show SF under 1, with one estimating .38.

Updated figures on age related recorded infections will not be available until May 20. From August 16, 2021 through May 16, 2022, of 89,500 total students and staff in SF schools, there have been 9,322 total recorded infections among students and staff. Among these, 740 have been reported in public schools while 1,850 have been reported in private, parochial and charter schools. DPH has not been tracking in-school infectons since the advent of omicron.

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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. > What about “The Tools”? As we now know, The Vaccine’s protection against infection wanes rather quickly

    I’d so love to read scientifically up to date, directed towards the layman, theories as to why this is when compared to other vaccines

    + something about the nature of coronaviruses themselves
    + something about mRNA vaccines in general
    + due to using only the spike protein and not more proteins from the virus
    + or due to vaccinating people while the pandemic is raging encouraging/incentivizing mutations compared to vaccinating people when the virus is at low levels (this is considered by some/many to be a conspiracy theory)
    + or other reasons….

  2. Not surprised about the comment near the article’s beginning about the testing at 24th & Mission–that’s right by the crowded ad hoc market at the BART station, plus the shouting evangelicals, and hardly any masks in site whenever I bicycle by there. While not high on the crime scale I’m a little surprised The City hasn’t shut it down for health as well as legal reasons (many of the items noted being sold are things like commercial toothpaste and laundry soap I bet are stolen……)

  3. Thanks again for the great work, Mark.

    Mission Local: please, just once, could you run a story about how disabled/senior/immunocompromised San Franciscans are doing during the pandemic, especially as they’re getting left behind? This is a social-justice issue that doesn’t get enough attention. Internationally renowned disability activist Alice Wong lives right in the neighborhood, and she gets interviewed by Democracy Now, the Guardian, British Vogue, and a bunch of other national/international media outlets. Why don’t you interview her about this? Or another disabled person? Just not Monica Gandhi, Bob Wachter, or another Covid minimizer. There are so many great, smart people you could talk to. I’d love to read a piece like that.

      1. It really is a social-justice issue, and I’m mystified as to why that angle is so rarely touched on, even by progressives. Even a beloved local institution like Rainbow Grocery, which makes a point of being committed to social justice, won’t consider reinstating a mask requirement– or even hours when masks are required.
        What does that say about the value they place on the safety of their medically vulnerable customers?