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

Hospitalizations, recorded infections and positivity rates continue to decline. Wastewater monitoring has picked up traces of variant BA.2.75, and R Number models are all over the place.

President Joseph Biden, doing his best imitation of Presidents Donald Trump and George Bush (W), announced that public health is over. Oops, sorry. he said “the pandemic is over.” Mission accomplished.

Apparently nursing home residents did not get the memo.

As the former Surgeon General notes, this was not the usual Biden “gaffe.”

Like Trump, Biden makes no pretense of “following the science” or bothering to consult with his “chief medical adviser.”

Biden may have meant public health (he may have meant any number of things, except Ukraine). Covid uncovered a severely defunded, dysfunctional and deeply unequal health system in the U.S. and around the world. The Lancet Covid-19 Commission has just released a report on lessons for the future. If you read any covid stuff this week, read this report. It is extensive, damning, and challenging (to put it mildly). If Biden reflects the attitude of the nation’s public officials (as in San Francisco), most likely the lessons so far from the covid pandemic are destined for George Orwell’s memory hole.

After such heavy reading, you probably need a palate cleanser. For light humor, National Security Statements can hit the spot. Like this one on the “Global Response and Recovery Framework.” Apparently, the world did not get the joke.

Is it over? Why not? We live in a time of magical thinking, so who needs data?

What would it mean for the pandemic to be (truly) at an end? For those who can’t get out of the binary mentality of total lockdown v. total transmission, this article is worth reading.

Apparently, covid is incapable of digesting and regurgitating the proper talking points. Coming up with more transmissible variants is what it does for a living.

The upcoming variant of concern, BA.2.75, is worrisome, but what may be more worrying is the unexpected way it’s evolving.

Even though “the pandemic is over, the federal government has begun (after 2.5 years) to study “long covid”. Unfortunately, the research project has so far enrolled about 20 percent of the people needed and has yielded reports “more symbolic than substantive.”

Scroll down for today’s covid numbers.

Hospitalizations are down from last week. On September 17, the San Francisco Department of Public Health reported 48 covid hospitalizations, or about 5.5 covid hospitalizations per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population). This represents a 34 percent decrease from last week. Over the week, hospitalizations were mostly in the low 60s. ICU patients dropped back to singe digits where they were last month. The California Department of Public Health reports on September 15, that there were 62 covid patients in SF hospitals with 10 patients in ICU. For the week ending September 18, the CDC says there were 39 new covid admissions, a 31.4 percent decrease from the previous week. According to the New York Times, on September 20, there were 79 covid hospitalizations. Neither the CDC, NYT or the CaDPH say which hospitals are included in their survey. When the brain fog lifts at SFDPH, we may find out how many covid positive patients have been vaccinated and how many are hospitalized “for” covid, and how many “with” covid.

The latest report from the U.S. 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 11 covid patients and 5 ICU beds available. Of 78 reported covid patients in the City, 32 were at either SFGH or UCSF. At least 61 ICU beds are available among reporting hospitals (not including the Veterans Administration or Laguna Honda). The California DPH reports that as of September 15, SF had 65 ICU beds available. Whether those beds are actually “staffed” neither the city nor the state will say.

Between July 18 and September 16, DPH recorded 610 new infections among Mission residents (a decrease of 16.4 percent from last week) or 104 new infections per 10,000 residents. During that period, Bayview Hunters Point had the highest rate at 173 new infections per 10,000 residents. Of 38 neighborhoods, 19 had rates at or above 150 per 10,000 residents, 13 in the east and southeast sectors of the City.

DPH reports on September 13, the 7-day average of daily new infections recorded in the City dropped to 44 or approximately 5 new infections per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population), a decrease of approximately 21.4 percent from last week. According to DPH, the 7-day average infection rate among vaccinated residents was 4.8 per 100,000 “fully vaccinated” residents and 11.1 per 100,000 unvaccinated residents. It is unclear whether “fully vaccinated” means 2, 3 or 4 doses. The New York Times said the 7-day average on September 13 was 66. On September 20, the Times says the 7-day average was 51, a 64 percent decrease over the past two weeks. Wastewater monitoring shows variants BA.4 and BA.5 slightly rising over the week and BA.2.75 showing up for the first time in the southeast sewers. This report comes from the Stanford model.

As of September 16, DPH has recorded 156 infections among San Francisco’s White population or 24.1 percent of the recorded infections so far in September; Asians 107 infections or 16.5 percent; Latinxs 101 infections or 15.6 percent; Blacks 32 infections or 4.9 percent; Multi-racials 5 infections or .8 percent; Pacific Islanders 2 infections or .3 percent; and Native Americans have recorded 1 infection or .2 percent of the recorded infections this month. Note: the demographics of covid-related deaths in California have changed significantly this year.

On September 13, the 7-day rolling Citywide average positivity rate dropped 6.2 percent from last week to 6.1 percent. Since last week, the average daily testing dropped approximately 1.4 percent to the lowest it’s been since May 30, 2020. Between July 18 and September 16, the Mission had a positivity rate of 8.6 percent (based on 9,373 tests) an 8.5 percent drop from last week’s report. Portola had the highest rate at 13.3 percent. Of 38 neighborhoods, 9 had a positivity rate higher than 10 percent of which 7 were in the southeast sector of the City.

Between September 13 and September 20, 380 San Francisco residents received their first or second shot; 175 got a booster. Vaccination rates in SF show virtually no change over the past three or four 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 a third booster is now rolling out, it appears the booster campaign is not working terribly well. Only 17 percent of the City’s population has received a second booster.

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

Two new covid-related deaths have been reported since our last report, bringing the total since the beginning of the year to 336. DPH refuses to report 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 (you guessed it) only 21 of the deaths are known to have had no underlying conditions, or comorbidities.

The lack of reliable infection numbers makes R Number estimates very uncertain. Covid R Estimation on September 9 estimated the San Francisco R Number at a surprising .48 while its estimate for the California R Number on September 19 was .60. The ensemble, on September 18, estimated the San Francisco R Number at 1.05 and the California R Number at .71. Note: Only one model in the ensemble shows SF above 1 (and one model shows it, incredibly, at .15).

As of September 16, DPH has recorded 22 infections among San Franciscans aged 0-4 or 3.4 percent of the month’s total so far; 5-11 9 infections or 1.4 percent; 12-17 16 infections or 2.5 percent; 18-20 12 infections or 1.9 percent; 21-24 30 infections or 4.6 percent; 25-29 49 infections or 7.6 percent; 30-39 125 infections or 19.3 percent; 40-49 91 infections or 14 percent; 50-59 96 infections or 14.8 percent; 60-69 87 infections or 13.4 percent; 70-79 57 infections or 8.8 percent; and those San Franciscans aged 80 and older have recorded 54 infections or 8.3 percent of the total infections so far in September. The numbers confirm that San Franciscans aged 60 and above continue to record a significantly higher proportion of the City’s recorded covid infections since the beginning of the year.

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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. Hey Mark,
    It doesn’t seem like many folks are paying attention to these numbers very much anymore as people move on, mandates and restrictions evaporate, etc. The incontrovertible facts are also render a daily or weekly “count” (that is not even accurate) pretty meaningless:

    1. SARS CoV2 will circulate among humans forever.
    2. It will infect 93-98% of everyone in the next few years.
    3. Practically anyone under 60 in reasonably good health with suffer very mild symptoms and are unlikely to be hospitalized or killed: https://sf.gov/data/covid-19-population-characteristics#age
    4. Vaccines significantly reduce the harms that come from infection, having the most impact among the elderly and the frail.

    Given those, what does it matter if incorrectly calculated daily case/ death counts are going up or down?The only purpose it serves is to feed anxiety and fear and provide fuel for the last few remaining folks in the “restrictions forever” crowd.
    It is time to start looking at who benefitted most from the old policies and who paid the biggest price for those. It seems the very rich got very much richer and poor folks were put most at risk of encountering the disease while simultaneously suffering the most from the restrictions while the lap toppers stayed mostly high and dry. Got any numbers on those?

  2. Thanks for this, Mark.

    FYI, all: BART is voting TODAY (Thursday, 9/22) on whether to keep the mask mandate or not. If you want to keep it, call in to the BART board meeting today at 5 p.m. PST to demand a continuation of the mask mandate.

    BART board meeting Zoom link:

    https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84790372291

    or

    Zoom phone number, to call in and comment at 5 p.m.: 833-548-0282
    Login code: 847-9037-2291

    Senior and Disability Action has a great action guide for public comment, or sending an e-mail: https://mobile.twitter.com/sdaction1/status/1572738615725428737

    Let’s fight to keep the mask mandate on BART!

    1. BTW, Senior and Disability Action in SF is doing so much great work to fight for better Covid protections in the Bay Area. Anyone who’s feeling a sense of despair about the dismal lack of Covid mitigation measures in the Bay Area these days, I highly recommend joining up with them. It feels good to take action.