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

Hospitalizations, recorded infections and positivity rates continue to climb as R Number models remain static. The good news, and reason for the question mark, is that current wastewater measures have leveled or declined a bit.

Whether or not this surge (swell, wave, bump) begins to decline, there’s a lot more covid on the near horizon, as new, more transmissible sub-variants take hold. Could this be why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has begun to urge a second booster? However, true to form, at the same time the CDC worries that updating the vaccine may send the wrong message. Will we have have a new vaccine in time for next winter’s surge? Not if Congress has its way.

One country is not waiting to check the hospitalization numbers before making preparations.

The argument that “case numbers don’t matter” may make us feel less anxious, but logically it makes no sense, as long covid, hospitalizations, and death begin with infection, and uncontrolled transmission means more variants with the potential to escape The Vaccine and other “tools.”

Speaking of long covid, we still know next to nothing about it, although it appears to be affecting a sizable number of those infected (even if they were asymptomatic). Most cases point to no specific cause.

I rarely read or see any of the expert celebrities talking about healthcare workers and the dire conditions that existed in hospitals when the pandemic struck. Though “official” inquiries have yet to begin here or in Britain, the British Medical Association has begun its own review. This article focuses on the lack of personal protective equipment. “Deficiencies in PPE (personal protective equipment), either through shortages, being of incorrect type or poorly fitting, was a phenomenon commonly reported by doctors across the board during the first weeks of the pandemic.” It was no different at home, where hospitals preferred to protect their profit margins. What has been done to correct this problem? The CDC, and celebrity experts, have nothing to say.

Paxlovid, one of the “tools” we have to control the virus, has a rebound effect that is getting more attention lately. Strangely, the rebound effect didn’t show up in Pfizer’s clinical trials, and apparently the company won’t release more pills for any more research.

Those who promote the “tools” don’t mention the rebound effect and seem to forget ventilation and isolation support entirely. One of the best ways to control infection is through ventilation of indoor spaces. This article provides some tips that would work if you have enough space, or the money to install the equipment.

Thanks to a comment from one of our readers, Mission Local will follow up with more reports on the disabled and immunocompromised.

Scroll down for today’s covid numbers.

Over the past week, hospitalizations rose another 37 percent (representing 24 new patients). On May 21, DPH reports there were 89 covid hospitalizations, or about 10.2 covid hospitalizations per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population). Although ICU patients rose to double figures during the week, on May 21, the figure was back in single digits. On May 21, the California Department of Public Health reported 94 covid patients in SF hospitals and 9 ICU patients. Though the case count is (probably) much greater than the winter of 2021, hospitalizations and deaths are noticeably lower. Have these patients been hospitalized “for” covid, or “with” covid? Are they vaccinated. How old are they? What is their race/ethnicity/socio economic status? Although most serious public health agencies have long been publishing these figures, San Francisco’s Department of Public Health (and California’s) have yet to figure it out.

The latest report from the federal Department of Health and Human Services shows Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital with 8 covid patients and 6 ICU beds available, while across the Mission, CPMC had 10 covid patients and 6 ICU beds available. Of 79 reported covid patients in the City, 23 were at either SFGH or UCSF, with at least 74 ICU beds available among reporting hospitals (which does not include the Veterans Administration or Laguna Honda). The California DPH currently reports 83 ICU beds available in San Francisco.

Between March 21 and May 20, DPH recorded 992 new infections among Mission residents (an increase of 27 percent from last week) or 169 new infections per 10,000 residents. During that period, Mission Bay had the highest rate at 291 new infections per 10,000 residents. Of 38 neighborhoods, 29 had rates above 150 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.

DPH reports on May 17, the 7-day average of daily new infections recorded in the City rose to 475 or approximately 54.3 new infections per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population), representing a 13.7 percent rise from last week. According to DPH, the 7-day average infection rate among vaccinated residents was 50.6 per 100,000 “fully vaccinated” residents and 114.1 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 17 was 503. The latest report from the Times says the 7-day average on May 24 was 569, a 54 percent rise over the past two weeks. State wastewater monitoring shows at the City’s Southeast sewer shed, prevalence of the virus is either flattening or decreasing depending on the source and what is being measured.

In May, Asians have 2,658 new recorded infections or 29.8 percent of the month’s cases so far; White 2,301 infections or 25.8 percent; Latinxs 1,032 infections or 11.6 percent; Blacks 312 infections or 3.5 percent; Multi-racials 65 infections or .7 percent; Pacific Islanders 51 infections or .6 percent; and Native Americans had 23 recorded infections or .3 percent of the May totals so far.

The 7-day rolling Citywide average positivity rate rose over 11.8 percent during the past week, while average daily testing dropped 9.6 percent. In May, Native Americans have a positivity rate of 13 percent so far, Asians 11.6 percent, Latinxs 10 percent, Multi-racials 9.9 percent, Whites 9.6 percent, Pacific Islanders 9.2 percent, and so far this month, Blacks have a positivity rate of 8 percent.

Vaccination rates in SF show virtually no change from last week. As of May 24, 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.

Four new covid-related deaths, including 3 more in May, have been reported, bringing the total since the beginning of the year to 182. 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. DPH only supplies cumulative figures on deaths. It appears from their figures, very little has changed since the early days, as 72.5 percent of covid related deaths in San Francisco are among those aged 70 and above.

The lack of reliable infection number data makes R Number estimates very uncertain. Covid R Estimation on May 20 estimated the San Francisco R Number had dropped a bit to 1.48 while the estimate for the California R Number remained 1.57 on May 23. The ensemble, as of May 22, raised its estimate of the San Francisco R Number to 1.12 and raised its California R Number to 1.03. Note: Only one model shows SF under 1 at .91.

In May, San Franciscans aged 0-4 years had 376 recorded infections or 4.2 percent of the recorded infections so far this month; 5-11 380 infections or 4.3 percent; 12-17 323 infections or 3.6 percent; 18-20 190 infections or 2.1 percent; 21-24 522 infections or 5.8 percent; 25-29 1,105 infections or 12.4 percent; 30-39 2,133 infections or 23.9 percent; 40-49 1,379 infections or 15.4 percent; 50-59 1,153 infections or 12.9 percent; 60-69 760 infections or 8.5 percent; 70-79 401 infections or 4.5 percent; and those San Franciscans aged 80 and above had 207 infections or 2.3 percent of the infections recorded so far in May.

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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. Really looking forward to Mission Local’s reporting on how disabled/seniors/ immunocompromised people are doing during the pandemic. That’s great news.

    There are so many great people you could talk to. Just a few who immediately come to mind:

    -Alice Wong
    -Jessica Lehman, Raia Small, or other folks at Senior and Disability Action
    -UCSF’s Dr. Rupa Marya, or UCSF geriatrician Louise Aronson

    “A lot of what has effectively been a slaughter has been the product of policies and public health failing, and just not caring.” — Louise Aronson on 1,000,000 Covid deaths in the US

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  2. me reading this– did I actually comment on my feelings about the constant reassurance that most of the ill were probably already sick or just think it?? Either way I’m glad to hear you’ll be giving more thought to the elderly and disabled readership and to reminding people (“at this point probably better to just have everyone get sick and move on! so I’m not worrying too much about masking or anything”) that we exist, thanks. No data exists in a vacuum or can truly be presented neutrally and this column is far from an exception, so I am happy to hear you will be more thoughtful in the future about how the ways you talk about the data might impact people’s thinking. As part of that, I would remind you that as you say, most deaths have been of folks over 70; by that age pretty much everyone has some kind of condition somewhere in their medical record that could technically be called a comorbidity. That doesn’t necessarily suggest that their deaths weren’t from the COVID infection, and it certainly doesn’t suggest that they would have died regardless. Unless your aim is to reassure your young and healthy readership that they don’t need to worry too much about infection or to imply that residents over 70 are less valued, which I very much doubt but it has sort of felt like for a while now, perhaps you should either back off that emphasis or chase it down and compare deaths in those age ranges to what they normally are over the same amount of time to actually find out what’s going rather than just suggesting that maybe COVID isn’t killing as many people as it appears. DPH has an agenda with their data and the ways they share it, as you have noted with their lack of transparency, but I would love to see you guys questioning not just the fact that they don’t release other details but also questioning the narrative presented by what they do release rather than perpetuating it.

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