Good morning, Mission, and welcome to Virus Village, your (somewhat) regular Covid-19 data dump.
Hospitalizations, recorded infections and positivity rates are considerably down. R Number models show local transmission below 1, and current wastewater monitoring shows the virus slightly rising in the southeast and falling in the west.
The Biden Administration’s vaccine-only strategy for fighting covid has taken a decided turn for the absurd. The top vaccine regulator for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the FDA has “extremely good data” showing that the shots are “safe and will be effective.” Where does that data come from? Apparently, the FDA will authorize more boosters based on studies involving mice. Yes, this is how they evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the annual flu vaccine (who knew?). No, covid is not the same as the flu, and the mice have not received four previous shots. Here’s a preliminary look at some of this booster’s pros and cons.
It would be funnier if the Administration was not expecting 100 million covid infections in the U.S. this fall/winter. Boosters have not been popular among eligible Americans, and with officials consistently signaling that transmission and circulation are of no concern, there is a question as to how many will choose to be boosted again.
Confused as to whether to get the new booster and when? Join the club. Here are some ways to think through the problem.
The Trump Administration pushed development of the initial vaccine with Operation Warp Speed. The Biden Administration seems to be content with Operation No Speed when it comes to the development of a vaccine that might actually prevent infections. Note that Cuba has already begun clinical trials (with human subjects) on a nasal vaccine.
A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosened their covid guidelines, giving no particular scientific reason. This was justified by a number of pandemic pundits as adjusting guidance “to meet where most Americans are.” Is this political science? Or simply what public health means today?
Shortly after its revision, CDC director Rachel Walensky acknowledged the CDC’s failure to prevent or control covid, and launched a bureaucratic response. The problem may go deeper than revising the organization chart, as it comes from the director of the nation’s foremost public health institution, who famously said last year, “your health is in your hands.”
If you believe the CDC can learn from its mistakes, best not to look at its recent responses to monkeypox and polio outbreaks.
For those most vulnerable to covid, the ideological foundation of the official “do nothing” policy to mitigate the virus transmission smacks of eugenics. That may be extreme. On the other hand, it may not, given Dr. Walensky’s view this past January that “[t]he overwhelming number of deaths, over 75%, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities. So really, these are people who were unwell, to begin with. And yes, really encouraging news in the context of omicron.”
Are we really beginning to understand “long covid“? If it’s true that one of every five infections will result in some form of long covid, that’s a lot of very unhealthy people around. What are the long-term consequences for families, workplaces, basketball games and hospitals?
In one Sonoma County hospital, it doesn’t look good.
It seems like we won’t have Dr. Fauci to kick around for very long. Does his retirement mark the end of an era in public health?
Scroll down for today’s covid numbers.
Hospitalizations are reported below 100 for the first time since June 20. On August 20, the San Francisco Department of Health reported 93 covid hospitalizations, or about 10.6 covid hospitalizations per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population). ICU patients have been below 10 for the past few days. The California Department of Public Health reports as of August 23, there were 93 covid patients in SF hospitals with 12 patients in ICU. For the week ending August 21, the CDC says there were 78 new admissions, an increase of 8.8 percent decrease from the previous week. The CDC won’t say (like state and local officials) which hospitals are included in their survey. DPH does not report on admissions, nor does it report on covid positive patients who were hospitalized “for” covid, and those hospitalized “with” covid.
The latest report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital with 19 covid patients and 16 ICU beds available, while across the Mission, CPMC had 13 covid patients and 4 ICU beds available. Of 130 reported covid patients in the City, 52 were at either SFGH or UCSF. Usually, the two hospitals generally account for 50 percent or more of the covid patients. This has not held during the recent wave. At least 80 ICU beds are available among reporting hospitals (which do not include the Veterans Administration or Laguna Honda). The California DPH reports that as of August 23, SF had 110 ICU beds available. Whether those beds are actually “staffed” neither the city nor the state will say.
Between June 20 and August 19, DPH recorded 1,150 new infections among Mission residents (a decrease of 28 percent from our last report) or 196 new infections per 10,000 residents. During that period, Bayview Hunters Point had the highest rate at 341 new infections per 10,000 residents. Of 38 neighborhoods, 18 had rates above 200 per 10,000 residents, 14 in the east and southeast sectors of the City. Lakeshore, the least vaccinated neighborhood, had a rate of 147 per 100,000 residents
DPH reports on August 16, the 7-day average of daily new infections recorded in the City dropped to 172 or approximately 19.7 new infections per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population), a decrease of approximately 18 percent from last week. According to DPH, the 7-day average infection rate among vaccinated residents was 18.3 per 100,000 “fully vaccinated” residents and 47.4 per 100,000 unvaccinated residents. It is unclear whether “fully vaccinated” means 2, 3 or 4 doses. The latest report from the New York Times says the 7-day average on August 23 was 176, a 25 percent decrease over the past two weeks. Wastewater monitoring shows covid in the City’s southeast sewers about where it was (or a little higher) than two weeks ago. This report comes from the Stanford model.
As of August 19, Asians have recorded 1,054 infections or 27.8 percent of the month’s total; Whites 820 infections or 21.6 percent; Latinxs 593 or 15.6 percent; Blacks 206 infections or 5.4 percent; Pacific Islanders 26 infections or .7 percent; Multi-racials 26 infections or .7 percent; and Native Americans have recorded 6 infections or .2 percent of the recorded infections so far in August.
On August 16, the 7-day rolling Citywide average positivity rate dropped 10 percent during the past week to 8.7 percent, the lowest positivity rate since May 3. Since last week, the average daily testing dropped approximately 6.4 percent. It is the lowest average daily testing number since July 7, 2021. Between June 20 and August 19 (of this year), the Mission had a positivity rate of 12.5 percent, roughly the same as our last report.
Since August 11, 1,644 San Francisco residents received their first or second shot. Vaccination rates in SF show virtually no change for the past two or three months. 90 percent of all San Franciscans have received one shot, 85 percent two shots and 64 percent have received at least one booster. As of August 22, DPH estimates 63 percent of Mission residents have received at least one booster. Note: Over 90 percent of residents in Bayview Hunters Point have been vaccinated and 66 percent have at least one booster. Less than 50 percent of Lakeshore residents have been vaccinated and 35 percent have received at least one booster.
For information on where to get vaccinated in and around the Mission, visit our Vaccination Page.
Twenty-one new covid-related deaths have been reported since our last report, bringing the total since the beginning of the year to 287. So far, 38 have been recorded in July and 9 in August. Over roughly the same period in 2021 there werer 319 covid-related deaths. The infection fatality rate between January 1 and August 1 is roughly .3 percent (based on recorded infections). DPH won’t say how many were vaccinated. It only provides cumulative information on race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. 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 demographic numbers on deaths.
The lack of reliable infection numbers makes R Number estimates very uncertain. Covid R Estimation on August 19 estimated the San Francisco R Number at .94 while its estimate for the California R Number on August 22 was .99. The ensemble, on August 21, estimated the San Francisco R Number at .89 and the California R Number at .93. Note: All models in the ensemble show SF below 1.
As of August 19, San Franciscans aged 0-4 have recorded 161 infections in August or 4.2 percent of the month’s total; 5-11 116 infections or 3.1 percent; 12-17 121 infections or 3.2 percent; 18-20 72 infections or 1.9 percent; 21-24 194 infections or 5.1 percent; 25-29 370 infections or 9.7 percent; 30-39 758 infections or 20 percent; 40-49 563 infections or 14.8 percent; 50-59 529 infections or 13.9 percent; 60-69 427 infections or 11.2 percent; 70-79 300 infections or 7.9 percent; and those San Franciscans aged 80 and above recorded 187 infections or 4.9 percent. The proportion of older infected residents (60+) has continued to rise.