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

Recorded infections and positivity rates are falling, while hospitalizations remain mostly flat. Wastewater monitoring has also shown the virus ebbing and R Number models are mostly down.

Another variant is on the loose, and is now the favorite to take over our winter holidays. It is BQ.1 and/or BQ1.1, a descendant of last year’s villain, Omicron and, of course, it’s said to be more transmissible and evasive than previous or other variants.

A new booster is also making the rounds, though at a far slower pace than the new and improved virus. Our new booster may be an improvement over the old boosters, but maybe not.

However, in the old debate between faith and science, faith seems to have the edge. With minimal, uncertain data, no one claims the booster will be a Savior, but we are told to get the booster anyway, since it is better than nothing (which is the alternative offered, other than high quality masking and avoiding the 3 Cs, which rarely gets a mention).

(In the old days, telling people they could “celebrate safely” in unmasked, tightly packed crowds after taking an unproven medication, was maligned as “misinformation.” Nitpickers might note this tweet came out within two weeks of Halloween, so the theoretical boost received that day or later will limit the already limited effect on Halloween).

While the booster may not protect you from ghouls and goblins, it may protect you from “severe” disease, especially if you are 50 or older.

OK, so there are efficacy questions and timing questions about the booster. Have we forgotten side effects? Are they a good thing? Yes. And no. Are they more likely with the new booster? Yes. And no.

What about the rapid antigen at home tests? Will they provide accurate information with the new variant? Yes. And no.

To public health officials and their chorus of celebrity experts, these questions may seem unduly academic.

The Biden Administration’s belated “warning” demonstrates the half-hearted response characteristic of the current regime.

The failure by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide timely information on the new variants can be attributed up to the same old data problems at the CDC, or the inability of the agency to contradict its masters’ main message.

In the wake of no alternatives, we are told to rely on personal risk calculation. (Note: The “Barry” referred to in the tweet is John Barry, who wrote the definitive work on the 1918 flu pandemic.)

Covid has taught us that cult of individual risk calculation is the American version of “public health.” Take a little time to listen to Justin Feldman talk about the mechanisms and process through which dominant business interests allied with political interests of both parties to “hide” the pandemic by minimizing public responsibility.

Couch potatoes, wake up. Not only will exercise improve your overall health, it may improve the effectiveness of The Vaccine.

Scroll down for today’s covid numbers.

Hospitalizations are slightly down over the past two weeks. On October 22, the San Francisco Department of Public Health reported 42 covid hospitalizations, or about 4.8 covid hospitalizations per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population). This represents an 10.5 percent drop from our last report. ICU patients remain in low single digits. The California Department of Public Health reports on October 20, there were 59 covid patients in SF hospitals (the same as last report) with 9 patients in ICU. For the week ending October 23, the CDC says there were 48 new covid admissions, a 3.3 percent decrease from the previous week. In addition, the CDC says 2.6 percent of staffed ICU beds were occupied by confirmed covid patients (a .1 percent rise from the previous week). According to the New York Times, on October 11, the daily average of covid hospitalizations was 57, an 5 percent drop from two weeks ago. Neither the CDC, NYT or the CaDPH say which hospitals are included in their survey. Should the brain fog ever lift 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 9 covid patients and 8 ICU beds available, while across the Mission, CPMC had 4 covid patients and 6 ICU beds available. Of 62 reported covid patients in the City, 29 were at either SFGH or UCSF. At least 67 ICU beds are available among reporting hospitals (not including the Veterans Administration or Laguna Honda). The California DPH reports that as of October 20, SF had 67 ICU beds available. Whether those beds are actually “staffed” neither the city nor the state will say.

Between August 22 and October 21, DPH recorded 324 new infections among Mission residents (a drop of 22.7 percent from last report) or 55 new infections per 10,000 residents. During that period, Portola had the highest rate at 95 new infections per 10,000 residents. Of 38 neighborhoods, 8 had rates at or above 70 per 10,000 residents, 7 in the east and southeast sectors of the City.

DPH reports on October 18 the 7-day average of daily new infections recorded in the City declined to 76 or approximately 10.8 new infections per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population), a 19 percent drop from our last report. On October 25, the New York Times says the 7-day average was 69, a 97 percent increase over the past two weeks. The CDC says that for the week ending October 19, the daily average was 55, a 14 percent drop from the previous week.

Wastewater monitoring of the City’s Southeast sewers shows variants BA.4 and BA.5 trending down, below where they were two weeks ago, and BA.2.75 slightly rising. This report, from the Stanford model, does not yet include BQ.1

As of October 21, DPH has recorded 428 infections among San Francisco’s Asian population or 27 percent of the recorded infections so far in October; Whites 394 infections or 24.8 percent; Latinxs 167 infections or 10.5 percent; Blacks 79 infections or 5 percent; Pacific Islanders 17 infections or 1.1 percent; Multi-racials 10 infections or .6 percent; and Native Americans recorded 0 infections in October. The others are unknown,

On October 18, the 7-day rolling Citywide average positivity rate dropped to 5.2 percent. CADPH reports a 5.1 percent weekly average on October 20. The New York Times reports a daily average 5.2 percent rate on October 10. DPH has not reported fewer than 2,000 city tests since May 2020.

Between August 22 and October 20, DPH reports Mission residents had a 5.1 percent positivity rate based on 8,086 tests.

Between October 11 and October 22, DPH reports 529 San Francisco residents received their first or second shot. Vaccination rates in SF show little change since January: 90 percent of all San Franciscans have received one shot, 86 percent two shots and 64 percent have received at least one booster. Only 17 percent of the City’s population has received a second booster. DPH has no information on who has received the new booster.

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

Thirteen new covid-related deaths have been reported since our last report, bringing the total since the beginning of the year to 351. In August 57 covid-related deaths were reported. To those who like to say covid-related deaths are no longer an issue, please note August had the 6th highest monthly figure for the entire pandemic. 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. It gets worse as DPH reports only 22 of the deaths are known to have had no underlying conditions, or comorbidities. Note: This is the first time this year a covid death has been added which was not related to one or more comorbidities.

The lack of reliable infection numbers makes R Number estimates very uncertain. Covid R Estimation on October 13 estimated the San Francisco R Number at .83 while its estimate for the California R Number on October 24 was .79. The ensemble, on October 21, estimated the San Francisco R Number at 1.1 and the California R Number at .88. Only two models in the ensemble show SF over 1, with one showing it at 1.3.

As of October 21, DPH reports those San Franciscans 0-4 recorded 49 October infections, or 3.1 percent of the month’s total so far; 5-11 32 infections or 2 percent; 12-17 26 infections or 1.6 percent; 18-20 25 infections or 1.6 percent; 21-24 65 infections or 4.1 percent; 25-29 125 infections or 7.9 percent; 30-39 306 infections or 19.3 percent; 40-49 235 infections or 14.8 percent; 50-59 235 infections or 14.2 percent; 60-69 138 infections or 12.5 percent; 70-79 169 infections or 10.7 percent, and those San Franciscans aged 80 and above recorded 129 infections or 8.1 percent of recorded infections so far in October. Higher infection proportions among residents 60 have been rising since the BA.5 swell began.

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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. > BA.2.75 slightly rising

    When I looked a few minutes ago, it seems like BA.2.75 has a noticeable upward trend, although it is still one or two orders of magnitude lower than the other measured variants.

    I am wondering when they will add this fall season’s new fashion variants to their lineup.

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  2. Mark,

    You sound exasperated as you try to make sense of all the contradictory information out there. I mentally picture you throwing up your hands and saying “maybe this, maybe that. Who knows?” I think a growing number of us are feeling the same way as the simple narratives become exposed as both way too simple and way too dependent on the authority of hopelessly compromised authorities and experts.

    Of course, the one thing all of the narratives have in common is “THEY screwed/ are trying to kill US and are moral monsters.” The difference between the narratives is how one defines “they” and “us.” After that, they all are identical. We all seem to see each other as the enemy instead of uniting around the many things we all have in common. We all want to live and be healthy and, almost all of us, want the same for everyone else. There are some who would seek to enhance their own lives and health at the expense of others but, in my experience, there are not very many of them and they are concentrated almost entirely in the rich and powerful among us. Their weakness is their tiny numbers, and they can only thrive when they can get a good proportion of the rest of us to see each other as enemies, a strategy with a pretty good (but not perfect!) track record. Here’s hoping that the growing exasperation you report grows and turns into a greater appreciation of our common goals.

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