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SF faces ‘major surge’ in new Covid-19 cases

San Francisco is facing a “major surge” of Covid-19 cases, says Dr. Grant Colfax, who heads the Department of Public Health.

Colfax at a press conference Thursday said The City has 107 people hospitalized for Covid-19 treatment, with a quarter of patients in intensive care unit beds. Just six weeks ago, Colfax said there were only 26 coronavirus patients in hospitals throughout in The City.

Colfax said:

“The virus is moving fast and more people are getting seriously ill.”

Health officials are reporting an average of 98 new cases per day and a cumulative total of 6,423 confirmed cases and 58 deaths.

Colfax said that if current cases and hospitalization rates continue, The City could see more than 750 residents in hospitals by mid-October and more than 600 deaths caused by the virus by the end of the year.

San Francisco Department of San Francisco, Calif. confirmed Covid-19 hospitalization patients by day with data reported through Monday, July 27, 2020.

Adding that a worst-case scenario could result in 2,400 hospitalizations and 1,800 deaths by the end of the year, Colfax said:

“These scenarios, unfortunately, become more likely, as each day goes by with the current trends.”

While The City does have the hospital capacity to care for the recent surge in patients, Colfax and District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani announced the establishment of a continuing care site for non-Covid-19 patients.

Officials said the site at the Presidio is designed for patients who still need short-term monitoring care and support and no longer need to be in a traditional hospital setting.

Colfax said the “low-acuity” facility will help free up capacity at city hospitals to prepare for an increase in Covid-19 patients.

Stefani said she and Colfax have already toured the site at 1163 and 1167 Gorgas Avenue:

“The site will allow the city to provide medical care for up to 93 San Franciscans who received treatment here in lieu of a hospital visit, or who have been discharged from a hospital but still need short term supervised medical care.”

Jesse Garnier SFBay Covid-19 dashboard highlighting San Francisco, Calif. cases by day as of Thursday, July 30, 2020.

Colfax continues to remind the public to wear face coverings when out in public and to practice physical distancing when possible.

Residents gathering with people outside of their household are contributing to the case surge, Colfax said.

Adding that residents should rely on testing as a tool to determine whether they can gather with others, he said:

“The more virus that is around, the more likely if you go to a gathering that somebody has the virus and is going to transmit it.”

Colfax also addressed questions from reporters about The City’s stance on enforcing public health orders with fines. Napa, Marin and Contra Costa counties have already implemented fine-based citations. 

City officials are looking at ways to increase enforcement efforts, especially where guidelines are clear and yet are not being followed, such as at businesses and in places where people gather, said Colfax.

While there was no mention of fines, he said:

“We are focusing on working with community and community stakeholders to increase voluntary compliance, but certainly we’re looking at increasing enforcement.”

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