'Physicians, nurses, ancillary staff': How hundreds of SFGH and UCSF staff got infected with COVID

More than 230 staff members are infected with COVID, most of which are breakthrough cases.

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ByKate Larsen KGO logo
Saturday, July 31, 2021
How hundreds of SFGH, UCSF staff got infected with COVID
Two major San Francisco hospitals - Zuckerberg San Francisco General and UCSF - are reporting more than 230 staff members infected with COVID.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Two major San Francisco hospitals - Zuckerberg San Francisco General and UCSF - are reporting more than 230 staff members infected with COVID - most of them breakthrough cases.

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"More staff are getting COVID than we saw before, and it's mostly vaccinated staff. And that's just because of the easing of restrictions," said Dr. Lukejohn Day, the Chief Medical Officer of San Francisco General Hospital. "We are seeing it among physicians, nurses, ancillary staff, we sort of are seeing that across the board."

According to Dr. Day, at SFGH:

  • In July, more than 50 staff members tested positive for COVID
  • 75-80% of them were fully vaccinated
  • None of them have been hospitalized

The 50 cases are out of 7,500 total hospital staff. It's a small portion, but how they got COVID is important.

"I think close to over 99% of those cases, almost 100%, we have been able to trace back to community spread," explained Dr. Day. "We have so far not detected any patient to staff or staff to patient transmission right now. But we still have some active investigations that are going on."

VIDEO: CDC warns Delta variant is as infectious as chickenpox; vaccinated people can transmit

The Delta variant surging across the U.S. appears to spread as easily as chickenpox, and may be more transmissible than Ebola and smallpox.

A source tells ABC7 news reporter, Kate Larsen, that three of the cases at San Francisco General were emergency department staff, who tested positive after they all gathered together at an event outside of work.

"In some ways it's a little bit surprising and disappointing that we're here talking seriously about COVID after all this time," said Dr. Josh Adler, UCSF's chief clinical officer.

According to UCSF:

  • In July, 183 UCSF employees or learners tested positive for COVID out of 35,000 people.
  • 84% were fully vaccinated.
  • 2 vaccinated people were hospitalized

"We were expecting and planning for breakthroughs, that said the rate of breakthroughs is a little bit higher than we had originally predicted," said Dr. Adler. But that's because those predictions were based on data from the original variant, not the Delta - which is twice as infectious.

RELATED: Delta variant 'twice as infectious' as previously thought

But, if there was no vaccine available, UCSF expects they would have four times as many COVID cases right now.

SFGH and UCSF caught these cases through symptom screenings - more employees have been reporting mild cold-like symptoms.

UCSF, which staffs SFGH, expects to enforce a COVID vaccine mandate starting September 1.

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