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.

One of the clearest lessons of the covid crisis is that public health, by its very nature, is political, and not just Republican/Democrat. Can it be otherwise? Gregg Gonsalves, an epidemiologist at Yale University, takes on the myth of political neutrality (objectivity) in unsparing terms. No surprise in San Francisco. From lockdowns, to schools, to testing/tracing/isolation to The Vaccine, it’s been one big political show.

Follow the links in Gonsalves’ piece. They are also enlightening. Also check out this piece, which takes a closer look at the relationship between covid outcomes the political ideology of federal and state electoral officials.

And, talk about being neutral and unpolitical, check out the American Public Health Association conference next week. Remember neutrality is Dante’s introduction to Hell.

As Gonsalves notes, there has been a lot of propaganda recently about a reversal of covid death rates among racial and ethnic minorities. Don’t be fooled.

In San Francisco, we wouldn’t know whether death rates have changed among various population groups, as the San Francisco Department of Public Health can’t be bothered to give us more than cumulative death rates.

The Tale of Two Pandemics is both about local politics and, perhaps even more important, global politics.

Watching the variants come and go has become a kind of cottage industry. Already, with a degree of evasiveness, the new crop of variants seems to be mutating faster than ever, giving them an edge over our spring villain, BA.5.

Should be a fun winter.

Perhaps not for those who haven’t gotten their third booster. Which is most people. Obviously it’s difficult to get people excited about another vaccination when you tell them, over and over in so many ways, everything is hunky dory.

Booster 3.0 may offer increased protection against infection, but not for long. Apparently, it may not noticeably strengthen the long-term defenses (T-cells) against hospitalization and death. Which suggests the real value of the new booster is for those over 50, and those immunocompromised.

Was the rush to the new bivalent booster a mistake? Hindsight is always 20/20, but what was the rush?

Was the new booster a political choice? Or simple greed?

Meanwhile, millions of doses of the original monovalent vaccine sit idly on shelves or in freezers (rather than being provided to other countries).

Despite the overwhelming number of local celebrity experts, we hear very little about the situation in San Francisco. Here’s some interesting local data mixed in with Chairman Bob Wachter’s latest musings on whether or not he wants to eat indoors.

To conclude, as always, on a positive note, new treatments may be on the way. Here’s a twice-a-day nasal spray. How about some new thoughts on attacking the source of viral replication: our bodies.

Scroll down for today’s covid numbers.

Hospitalizations are slightly down over the past week. On October 29, the San Francisco Department of Public Health reported 40 covid hospitalizations, or about 4.6 covid hospitalizations per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population). This represents an 4.8 percent drop. ICU patients remain in low single digits. The California Department of Public Health reports on October 27, there were 53 covid patients in SF hospitals (down from last week) with still 9 patients in ICU. For the week ending October 30, the CDC says there were 43 new covid admissions, a 9 percent decrease from the previous week. In addition, the CDC says 2.5 percent of staffed ICU beds were occupied by confirmed covid patients (a .1 percent fall from the previous week). According to the New York Times, on November 1, the daily average of covid hospitalizations was 60, an 4 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 7 covid patients and 8 ICU beds available, while across the Mission, CPMC had 4 covid patients and 7 ICU beds available. Of 58 reported covid patients in the City, 29 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 October 27, SF had 83 ICU beds available. Whether those beds are actually “staffed” neither source will say.

Between August 29 and October 28, DPH recorded 307 new infections among Mission residents (a drop of 5.2 percent from last report) or 52 new infections per 10,000 residents. Sunset/Parkside was the only neighborhood with more recorded infections. During that period, Portola had the highest rate at 89 new infections per 10,000 residents. Of 38 neighborhoods, 6 had rates at or above 70 per 10,000 residents, 5 in the east and southeast sectors of the City.

DPH reports on October 25 the 7-day average of daily new infections recorded in the City declined to 65 or approximately 7.5 new infections per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population), a 14.5 percent drop from last week. On November 1, the New York Times says the 7-day average was 63, a 28 percent decrease over the past two weeks. The CDC says that for the week ending October 26, the daily average was 62, a 9.6 percent drop from the previous week.

Wastewater monitoring of the City’s Southeast sewers shows variants BA.4 and BA.5 trending down from two weeks ago, with BA.2.75 slightly rising. This report, from the Stanford model, does not yet include BQ.1 or any of the other omicron offspirng.

As of October 28, DPH reports Asians have had a 6 percent positivity rate in October so far; Pacific Islanders 5.7 percent; Multi-racials 5.1 percent; Whites 4.5 percent; Latinxs 4.1 percent; Blacks 3.3 percent; and Native Americans so far in October have had a positivity rate of .5 percent.

On October 25, DPH says the 7-day rolling Citywide average positivity rate dropped to 4.7 percent. CADPH reports a 4.1 percent weekly average on October 27.

Between August 29 and October 28, DPH reports Mission residents had a 4.8 percent positivity rate based on 7,900 tests.Japantown had the highest positivity rate during that period with 7.8 percent positive. Of 38 neighborhoods, 15 had positivity rates 6 percent and higher; with 7 in the east and southeast sectors.

Between October 25 and November 1, DPH reports 399 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. As of November 1, 20 percent of SF residents have received the bivalent booster.

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

Fifteen new covid-related deaths have been reported since our last report, bringing the total since the beginning of the year to 366. In August 57 covid-related deaths were reported. That number has been changed to 51. 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.

The lack of reliable infection numbers makes R Number estimates very uncertain. Covid R Estimation on October 20 estimated the San Francisco R Number at .83 while its estimate for the California R Number on October 31 was .78. The ensemble, on October 30, estimated the San Francisco R Number at .92 and the California R Number at .89. Only one model in the ensemble show SF over 1, at 1.05

According to DPH,there are 19 nursing homes (“skilled nursing facilities”) with 20 facilities. DPH reports that as of October 28, there have been 0 infections and 0 covid-related deaths recorded so far in October.

In Single Room Occupany hotels (SROs), DPH has recorded 30 infections and 0 covid-related deaths.

Among the unhoused, DPH has recorded 39 infections so far in October. It does not provide a count of covid-related deaths over time, but the cumulative number now stands at 14. In the last report, it was 7.

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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 Comment

  1. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for your efforts tracking COVID data. I noticed in your latest update you mention that, “In San Francisco, we wouldn’t know whether death rates have changed among various population groups, as the San Francisco Department of Public Health can’t be bothered to give us more than cumulative death rates.” However, this isn’t correct as the same data sources you use elsewhere in the article also break down deaths over time by demographic characteristics, especially Race/Ethnicity as you use elsewhere.

    A quick few minutes with the data made this graph but you can use the other tools in the post to slice and dice it.

    The public health department has been publishing solid data throughout the pandemic, so it’s worth giving credit where it’s due.


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