SF officials say COVID-19 restrictions working to slow disease’s spread

San Francisco officials said Tuesday that the restrictions put in place two weeks ago have helped to reduce the spread...

San Francisco officials said Tuesday that the restrictions put in place two weeks ago have helped to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but the next two weeks will be critical to avoiding the alarming surge experienced post-Thanksgiving.

San Francisco voluntarily put in place the state’s regional stay-at-home order tied to intensive care unit capacity earlier than required on Dec. 6, along with four other Bay Area counties.

“Our stay at home orders are starting to have an effect,” Mayor London Breed said. “But we also know that the number of cases of people in the hospital remain as high as they have ever been and we are in a very dangerous place if we get a post-holiday surge.”

The Bay Area was officially placed under the state’s three-week regional stay-at-home order on Dec. 17. The order would expire on Jan. 7 if ICU capacity is higher than 15 percent. Gov. Gavin Newsom already indicated on Monday that the stay-at-home orders will likely be extended in both the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, where they would otherwise be expected to expire on Dec. 28 and Dec. 30, respectively.

Dr. Grant Colfax, head of the Department of Public Health, said that there was “relatively good news” in that the growth rate of the virus infection was slowing down, which he attributed to the stay-at-home order.

“Two weeks ago, when we started the limited stay-at-home order, our cases were increasing on an average of 8 percent every day,” Colfax said. “Today, our cases are increasing on average at 2 percent per day. This is because of the changes that we have made in our behavior.”

He said that the reproductive rate was 1.45 on Dec. 6, which declined to 1.24 on Dec. 20, a decrease that significantly lowered the projections of peak hospitalizations from 1,490 to 590 and decreased additional death projections from 544 to 214.

The City is averaging about 275 new cases per day. Colfax said the projections of hospitalizations and additional deaths would come down further if people continue to comply.

“Changing our behavior can have a tremendous impact on the spread of the virus,” he said. “Let’s keep up what we are doing and slow this virus. Let’s not have the situation that we had right after Thanksgiving, a massive surge that increased cases by 50 percent.”

The state reported a total of 32,659 cases Tuesday and 247 deaths. There were continued increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations with 17,843 patients in the hospital and 3,755 in intensive care.

Check back for updates.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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