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

Hospitalizations are up, while recorded infections and positivity rates are slightly down, as is the covid in our toilets. The R Number models are essentially the same as they were last month.

What would a winter solstice be without covid? The virus does what the virus does,

And what the virus does can now be clearly seen in China. Remember “flatten the curve”? Like San Francisco, China apparently did not use restrictions to buy time to create systems for ongoing control. And this is what they’ve got. They? Do I mean we?

If you scroll through the thread by the notorious “Dr. Doom,” you will find a positive sign, the development and production of an inhaled (mucosal) vaccine.

It has been known for some time now that a mucosal vaccine would be a significant improvement over the current batch of vaccines. So will we also see that coming here? It’s not a part of the Biden Administration’s late and inadequate remix of last year’s unpreparedness plan.

Speaking of plans, has anyone received reimbursement for rapid tests from their health insurance provider? I haven’t.

It appears the government is running out of covid funds. Remember last spring, before the BA5 surge, when Uncle Joe urged cities and states to spend covid relief funds on law enforcement? No new financing for a mucosal vaccine, treatments, or anything else is on the horizon.

Not to worry; the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be meeting in January to consider another vaccine tweak. Does this mean a sixth shot in March or April? Why not?

Only this time, the new vaccine, like the Paxlovid treatment, won’t come free.

Not to worry; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assures us that if you have the original two-shot regimen, you are “fully vaccinated”. So what if you’ve gotten five shots? There’s some kind of scientific nuance here that I can’t quite grasp (another symptom of “long covid”?).

In case you were wondering, which I’m sure you were, there are more than 200 symptoms of “long covid,” even though no one knows what “long covid” is.

Though it doesn’t do much for infection, the latest booster comes with impressive data showing increased protection against hospitalization/severe disease for humans as well as mice. Let’s see what it looks like in six months.

If you want to be up to date, the correct terminology for the current surge is a “senior wave,” which means that seniors (65 and older) are getting hit harder by the virus, as far as hospitalizations and deaths go. In San Francisco, we don’t know that to be a fact, as the authorities consider any demographic information on the hospitalized to be Top Secret! However, the SF Department of Public Health has released data showing that relatively more SF seniors are getting infected now than last year, so an increased proportion of hospitalization/deaths among seniors could be a possibility.

Not to worry; although the virus has always held a grudge against Boomers, governments at all levels have pledged to protect those at high risk (see above). Making seniors pay for the latest booster and treatment options is the first step, but what’s really called for is a dose of good old-fashioned “optimism.”

Here’s a tip of the optimistic cap to Dr. Monica Gandhi with her latest good cheer on why this covid holiday could be more fun than the last two.

(I have been told that optimism can also be purchased at your local cannabis dispensary. Don’t expect reimbursement from your health insurer.)

True to form, I will end this intro on an optimistic note: How about them T-cells?

Scroll down for today’s covid numbers.

Hospitalizations are up from last week. On December 17, the San Francisco Department of Public Health reported 121 covid hospitalizations, or about 13.8 covid hospitalizations per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population). This represents a 6.1 percent increase from last week. ICU patients remain the same (11). The California Department of Public Health reports on December 15, there were 118 covid patients in SF hospitals (ten less than last week) with 12 patients in ICU. For the week ending December 18, the CDC says there were 84 new covid admissions, a 17.4 percent decrease from the previous week. In addition, the CDC says 6.5 percent of staffed ICU beds were occupied by confirmed covid patients (a .6 percent increase from the previous week). According to the New York Times, on December 20, the daily average of covid hospitalizations was 125, a 35 percent rise from two weeks ago. Neither the CDC, NYT or the CaDPH say which hospitals are included in their survey. Should the SFDPH ever lift its information lockdown, 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 15 covid patients and 0 ICU beds available, while across the Mission, CPMC had 12 covid patients and 3 ICU beds available. Of 125 reported covid patients in the City, 43 were at either SFGH or UCSF. At least 48 ICU beds are available among reporting hospitals (not including the Veterans Administration or Laguna Honda). The California DPH reports that as of December 15, SF had 49 ICU beds available. Whether those beds are actually “staffed” neither source will say.

Between October 17 and December 16, DPH recorded 516 new infections among Mission residents (a rise of 64.3 percent from last report) or 88 new infections per 10,000 residents. Sunset/Parkside and Bayview Hunters Point were the only neighborhood in the City with more. During that period, Bayview Hunters Point had the highest rate at 146 new infections per 10,000 residents. Of 38 neighborhoods, 10 had rates at or above 100 per 10,000 residents, 9 in the east and southeast sectors of the City.

DPH reports on December 13, the 7-day average of daily new infections recorded in the City dropped to 199 or approximately 11.6 new infections per 100,000 residents (based on an 874,000 population), a 4.3 percent fall from last week. On December 15, the Times says the 7-day average was 210, a 66 percent increase over the past two weeks. The CDC says that for the week ending December 14, the total number of recorded infections was 1471, a 11.2 percent decrease from the previous week.

Wastewater monitoring of the City’s Southeast sewers shows variants BA.4, BA.5 and BQ down from a peak two weeks ago but gyrating up and down . This report is from the Stanford model.

So far in December, DPH reports Asians recorded 669 infections or 27.3 percent of the month’s cases; Whites 664 infections or 20.8 percent; Latinxs 514 infections or 16.1 percent; Blacks 160 infections or 5 percent; Pacific Islanders 23 infections or .7 percent; Multi-racials 15 infections or .5 percent; and Native Americans recorded 8 infections or .3 percent of the month’s total cases.

On December 13, DPH says the 7-day rolling Citywide average positivity rate wa 11.1 percent, a 3.5 percent drop from last week. CADPH reports a 10.6 percent weekly average on December 15, a .5 percent drop from the prior week.

Between October 17 and December 16, DPH reports Mission residents had a 7 percent positivity rate based on 7,987 tests. Of 38 neighborhoods, 6 had positivity rates 10 percent and higher; with 5 in the east and southeast sectors. Portola was the only neighborhood above 11 percent.

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 while 17 percent have received two. As of December 20, 33 percent of SF residents have received the latest bivalent booster, including 58 percent of San Franciscans aged 65-74 and 53 percent of San Franciscans aged 75 and above.

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

Twenty new covid-related deaths have been reported since our last report, bringing the total since the beginning of the year to 393 (the cumulative total since 2020 according to DPH is 1086). 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 (still) only 22 of all SF covid-related 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 December 8 estimated the San Francisco R Number at 1.23 while its estimate for the California R Number on December 16 was 1.05. The ensemble, on December 15, estimated the San Francisco R Number at 1.11 and the California R Number at 1.13.

So far in December, DPH reports San Franciscans aged 0-4 have recorded 111 infections or 3.5 percent of the total recorded infections; 5-11 103 infectons or 3.2 percent; 12-17 67 infections or 2.1 percent; 18-20 39 infections or 1.2 percent; 21-24 134 infections or 4.2 percent; 25-29 260 infections or 8.2 percent; 30-39 626 infections or 19.7 percent; 40-49 443 infections or 13.9 percent; 50-59 485 infections or 15.2 percent; 60-69 434 infections or 13.6 percent; 70-79 266 infections or 8.4 percent; and those San Franciscans aged 80 and above recorded 216 infections or 6.8 percent of the total infections recorded by DPH so far in December.

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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. What’s going on with this column? It’s no longer coming out weekly, but there haven’t been any updates posted about that. Is the schedule changing? Sure hope not, especially not as XBB 1.5 takes off, but it would be nice to know either way.

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  2. I’m mystified as to why you linked to that Monica Gandhi article. She has been wrong over and over again with her covid predictions. Please don’t platform people like her.
    Here’s a great interview clip where Mehdi Hasan calls her on that, with many specific examples; it’s worth watching:

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    1. Mehdi Hassan?

      1. The guy who tells everyone to always mask
      2. Is seen at the slavery world’s cup indoors not masking
      3. Is seen carefully cropping his photos claiming his stadium was outdoors
      4. The guy who tells everyone to always mask?

      Also Mehdi, “you are all bad, you are all complicit in slavery, here I am at the world’ cup in qatar”

      I’ll take Monica Gandhi 1000x over Mehdi Hasan.

      Also “please don’t platform”… I very very very much would like a 2023 where I never hear people telling others who to platform or not, especially when the person we’re not supposed to platform is by far more educated and more authoritative than the people we are supposed to platform, but who we disagree with.

      Just say no thank you to “No platform” discourse.

      Especially in uncertain times, lets lets lets platform many informed opinions so that we can best figure out what’s what on our own.

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      1. “Informed” how? On Delta being a “scariant” that wouldn’t kill anyone? On that “herd immunity” theory with COVID? (How’s that panning out?) On children not needing to be vaccinated? She’s been wrong over and over again.

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