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Home / Health / SF projects horrible COVID figures for the worst case scenario, but how accurate are they?

SF projects horrible COVID figures for the worst case scenario, but how accurate are they?



As the coronavirus rises again in San Francisco again, city officials are looking for the worst possible outcome: mass infections by the fall, potential overload of the city health care system, and a sharp stalemate in the number of city deaths.

At a virtual press conference Thursday, the San Francisco Department of Public Health Dr. Grant Colfax confirmed that the number of patients admitted to COVID is higher than ever, underlining the urgent need of city dwellers to self-correct in mitigating the spread of the virus. During the last peak in April, 94 people were hospitalized. Six weeks ago, that figure dropped to 26. But by the end of July, the number of hospital admissions had risen to 107. Of those, Colfax noted, a quarter are in intensive care.

“In just 1

0 days, this month we went from 5,000 to 6,000 cases of COVID-19,” he said. “Let me be clear: We are in a huge increase of COVID-19. The virus is going fast and more people are getting sick a lot. If this continues at the current pace, we estimate on average we will have more than 750 San Franciscoans. in hospital by mid-October and more than 600 deaths from COVID-19 in 2020. [The] The worst case scenario puts us at 2,400 hospitalizations and 1,800 deaths. “These scenarios become more likely as they go through the current trends every day.”

Such figures look scary, but at this point, they are still preventable. The city has recorded 6,423 cases and 58 deaths since Thursday. Colfax noted that San Francisco hospitals are not overcrowded like those in New York, but that “it is extremely prudent that we have reached this point.”

Dr. George Rutherford, professor of epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco, largely agrees with the city’s assessment and current forecasts. While the current R0 score is just north of 1 – significantly lower than it was a week or so ago – the figures the city forecasts for the near future are likely to carry weight.

“They have been accurate in the past,” Rutherford says of forecasts up to 4-6 weeks ahead. “As you go further it is everyone’s guess. We use a variety of inputs to get estimates of where things might be, [but] it is not as if we have a connection to it or are betting on it. They are intended for planning purposes. whether [Colfax] “I’m putting those numbers in there, that ‘s what they’re planning.”

City officials are currently working to find the best ways to boost hospital weather. On Thursday, Colfax and District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani announced a 93-person low-disability care center for non-COVID patients to vacate hospital beds for coronavirus cases. And an extra floor was previously opened for COVID patients at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital.

As for what might happen later this year, Rutherford is less confident about the city’s estimates. While the notion that an average of more than 750 people a day can be hospitalized is plausible, he is not so sure about the predicted death toll of 600, noting that it “seems a bit far-fetched.”

“But if this starts to return to nursing homes or if we infect so many infected young people, we see them spreading in the ICU and mortars that will be very problematic,” he adds.

As for those worst case scenario numbers? It’s still hard to say. There is a possibility that this could happen, says Rutherford, but that the outcome is far from certain at this point. “This is the problem with modeling too far,” he says, “you get wide numbers, but you have to plan something.”

All this aside, the next scenario that Rutherford is really worried about is not strictly coronavirus – it also has to do with the flu. “Will everyone be slow to get flu shots, and will we start flooding emergency departments with people with the flu and people with COVID at the same time?”

It’s a scary thought, but it adds the best way for San Franciscoans to prevent overwhelming hospitals is to follow the recommendations from the health department – do the things that are within their power.

“They can stay home when they are sick, they can avoid going indoors, they can get a flu shot,” he says. “That’s what they can control.”

And they should follow the advice Colfax gave again on Thursday: “Please wear a mask. It’s not that hard.”


Alyssa Pereira is culture editor at SFGate. Email: alyssa.pereira@sfgate.com | Twitter: @alyspereira




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