‘Not our destiny yet’: San Francisco health director projects as many as 1,500 more deaths if COVID-19 surge continues

source https://abc7news.com/health/sf-says-1500-more-deaths-possible-if-covid-19-surge-doesnt-slow/8641215/

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — During a Wednesday press conference about the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders in San Francisco, Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax described two different scenarios for the future, depending on if the city is able to slow the surge of new cases.

“They are not our destiny yet,” said Dr. Colfax about the trajectory of hundreds of predicted COVID-19 deaths during this third surge. There are currently 123 COVID-19 positive patients in San Francisco hospitals, with numbers showing no signs of decreasing. Thirty of these patients are in the ICU. While he said the number doesn’t seem that high, he reminded us “that number is increasing dramatically every day.”

MORE: Everything to know about California’s confusing new stay-at-home order

San Francisco’s current stay-at-home order is being enforced through Jan. 4, 2021 amid a dangerous surge of new cases and decreasing ICU capacity. Dr. Colfax predicted that San Francisco will run out of ICU beds by Dec. 27, just 17 days, if things don’t get better.


“To be blunt, we have one chance to turn this serious surge around and that chance is right now. But our window is narrowing and closing fast,” said Colfax. “San Francisco, let’s seize this moment, let’s seize the day and turn this virus back. As you know, we are in the middle of a massive surge in San Francisco of COVID-19 cases. By far the worst surge to date. And I want to stress the significant impact that this surge will have on you, your neighbors and friends and family and future generations if we do not bend the trajectory of this surge right now.”

“We are at a crossroads. We still have a window to turn this thing around,” he said. He’s predicting two different scenarios based on San Francisco’s ability to decrease the city’s transmission rate.

The first scenario is bleak. Dr. Colfax said that if we do not largely stay at home, he projects coronavirus transmission will continue at a very high rate.

The reproductive rate is currently at 1.5 in San Francisco, meaning for every one person who has COVID-19, they are infecting 1.5 new people on average.

That means the virus is raging throughout the city, and if it continues at that rate, he estimated, on average, that San Francisco will have 1,410 COVID patients on Feb. 10 of next year — 10 times the number in the hospital now.

In that scenario, there could be an estimated 500 additional deaths on average, but as many as 1,500 additional deaths in addition to the 164 who have already died.

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