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

After going up earlier in the week, hospitalizations are down, as are recorded infections and positivity rates. R Number models show local transmission below 1, but wastewater monitoring shows covid rising back to about where it was two weeks ago.

Despite the lack of knowledge about the characteristics of the virus, the efficacy and durability of the “tools,” and although the risk of contacting covid is as high as ever, public health officials in San Francisco and around the country continue to pretend the pandemic is in the rear-view mirror. The situation today seems as uncertain and confusing as ever, if not more so.

President Joe Biden’s rebound highlighted the questions and problems concerning the popular treatment Paxlovid, most of which have been covered before in Covid Tracker. Rachel Gutman at The Atlantic asks “What is really going on with Paxlovid?” Why the rebound? And what value does Paxlovid add, for whom, in what circumstance? University of California, San Francisco’s Bob Wachter is quoted saying, “I can barely decide whether I want it, and I do this for a living.” 

Is it the drug, inadequate testing, “recall bias” or something else? What happened to the randomized clinical trials that were supposed to provide the basis for authorization prior to use?

Of course, randomized clinical trials have not been very popular in the covid era. But that is only a part of the “illusion of evidence-based medicine” when Pfizer and Friends are pushing their products.

Besides providing an ongoing source of profits for Pfizer, as this article points out, “America’s COVID-19 vaccine booster policy remains confusing.” Here are three pertinent questions that we don’t expect answers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Officials and their stenographers continue to blame the unvaxxed for the high American covid-related death toll. But as this article points out, the U.S. (and San Francisco) vax-only approach leaves out the most vulnerable.

In other vaccine news, there are two recent studies, one on a nasal vaccine that reports no side effects but doesn’t say if it works, and one that claims that three shots of Moderna induced higher levels of antibodies than Pfizer for all variants through Omicron BA. 1. We are now at Omicron BA. 5 and counting.

Worried about reinfection? Though “New state numbers show one out of every seven new cases in July was a reinfection, some suggest those numbers, or the interpretation of those numbers, is wrong, and that infection with Omicron BA.1 provides “good” immunity against BA.5.

Although Covid Tracker is not tracking monkeypox, the current outbreak has shown how eager public health officials are to repeat the same mistakes they made with covid on a national as well as local level. And some of us will remember that, current propaganda aside, we saw a similar response 40 years ago, especially with respect to discrimination against disrespected communities.

In realtime, we are learning that pandemics don’t come with neat and easy endpoints, nor when public officials and celebrity experts prefer to play “let’s pretend” with life and death.

If you are sick from the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s withholding data (especially with respect to hospitalizations) and refusal to be held accountable, contact Communications Director Alison Hawkes, alison.hawkes@sfdph.org.

Scroll down for today’s covid numbers.

On July 29, DPH reports that after rising to 146, there were 118 covid hospitalizations, a 5.6 percent decrease from last week, or about 13.5 covid hospitalizations per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population). Except for two days, ICU patients remained below 20. It appears this wave/bump/surge has included the highest hospitalization figures other than the winters of 20-21 and 21-22. I can only speculate because DPH does not report cumulative numbers. The California Department of Public Health reports as of August 2, 125 covid patients in SF hospitals with 20 patients in ICU. The CDC is reporting county data again. For the week ending July 31, the CDC says there were 106 new admissions, a 2.5 percent decrease from the previous week. The CDC won’t say (like CADPH and SFDPH) which hospitals are included in their survey.

The latest report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital with 16 covid patients and 12 ICU beds available, while across the Mission, CPMC had 14 covid patients and 3 ICU beds available. Of 150 reported covid patients in the City, 44 were at either SFGH or UCSF. This is unusual as the two hospitals generally account for 50 percent or more of the covid patients. At least 74 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 2, SF had 108 ICU beds available. Whether those beds are actually “staffed” neither the city nor the state will say.

Between May 30 and July 29, DPH recorded 1,588 new infections among Mission residents (a decrease of 9.8 percent from two weeks) or 244 new infections per 10,000 residents. During that period, Bayview Hunters Point had the highest rate at 421 new infections per 10,000 residents. Bayview Hunters Point was the only neighborhood with a rate above 400, while 8 others had rates above 300 per 10,000 residents, with 7 in the east and southeast sectors of the City.

DPH reports on July 26, the 7-day average of daily new infections recorded in the City dropped to 327 or approximately 37.4 new infections per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population), a decrease of approximately 10 percent from last week. According to DPH, the 7-day average infection rate among vaccinated residents was 34.1 per 100,000 “fully vaccinated” residents and 99.1 per 100,000 unvaccinated residents. It is unclear whether “fully vaccinated” means 2, 3 or 4 doses. The latest report from the Times says the 7-day average on August 2 was 300, a 26 percent decrease over the past two weeks. After decreasing last week wastewater monitoring appears to be increasing in the southeast sewers almost back to where is it was two weeks ago. This report comes from the Stanford model. Apparently, California residents are still suffering from constipation as the state says its reports are delayed due to “supply chain” issues. The latest from July 26, shows covid decreasing over the past two weeks.

As of July 29, Pacific Islanders have had a case rate of 5,123 per 10,000 residents based on their population group; Latinxs 2,836; Native Americans 2,454; Blacks 2,214; Asians 1,330; and Whites have had a case rate of 1,166 per 10,000 White SF residents.

On July 26, the 7-day rolling Citywide average positivity rate dropped 3.7 percent during the past week to 13 percent, while average daily testing dropped approximately 6.1 percent. Between May 30 and July 29, the Mission had a positivity rate of 13 percent.

In July, 786 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 63 percent have received at least one booster. Note: DPH changed its booster rates to reflect the percentage of the total SF population. Previously the figures represented a percentage of those who had received 2 doses. As of August 1, DPH estimates 63 percent of Mission residents have received at least one booster.

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

Sixteen new covid-related deaths have been reported over the past two weeks, bringing the total since the beginning of the year to 252. There have been 17 so far in July. 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 demographic numbers on deaths.

The lack of reliable infection numbers make R Number estimates very uncertain. Covid R Estimation on July 29 estimated the San Francisco R Number at 1.01 while its estimate for the California R Number on August 1 was 1.08. The ensemble, as of July 31, estimated the San Francisco R Number at .92 and the California R Number at .86. Note: All models in the ensemble show SF below 1.

As of July 29, there have been 142 recorded infections among residents of nursing homes (“skilled nursing facilities”) and 2 covid-related deaths so far in July. DPH does not say if this includes Laguna Honda (it does not report at all on this facility for which it is responsible). In Single Room Occupancy Hotels (SROs) there have been 163 recorded infections and 0 new deaths in July. Among those unhoused, there have been 183 newly recorded infections. DPH does not give death totals by month for this population, reporting there have been a total of 13 covid-related deaths among the unhoused.

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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. Thanks for linking to that article explaining the problems with vax-only approach. It’s an approach that absolutely shafts the most vulnerable. The “we have the tools” and “one-way masking works” crowd never talks about Long Covid. Many fully vaccinated people are getting Long Covid, and SF DPH isn’t doing a thing about it. We’re basically forced to remain shut up inside our homes, or risk terrible outcomes. I’m not as worried about hospitalization and death as I am about contracting Long Covid, which isn’t rare at all.

    And of course, the longer the virus is allowed to run rampant with zero mitigation measures, the more selective pressure is placed on the vaccines, and the less effective they become.

    One-way masking is not enough when there’s this much virus circulating. It doesn’t work.

    If anyone wants to attend a SF Health Commission meeting and demand better Covid mitigation measures, those meetings are open to the public, and they meet regularly the 1st and 3rd Tues of every month at 4pm PST. They’re also accessible virtually. The next meeting is Tues, 8/16.

    I’d love to see Mission Local cover one of these meetings. You’ll hear comment after comment from concerned locals who want better Covid mitigation measures. Parents of immunocompromised kids. People who just want to get to the doctor’s safely. Dr. Susan Philip’s supreme indifference to all this mass sickness and suffering as she herself enjoys a safe workplace — masks and distancing are still required at those SF Health Comissionner meetings.

    Mass infection is a policy choice. We don’t have to accept it.

    1. Also, talk about discrimination against disrespected communities: why is it any more acceptable to let disabled and high-risk people succumb to disability and death than any other group? Insert the name of any other group in there, and see how it sounds. SF DPH really sees us as disposable, and less than human.