COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations plateau in SF but 'still high,' officials say

Mayor London Breed also threw her support for SF restaurants, other small businesses impacted
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Director of Public Health Dr. Grant Colfax spoke on Thursday about COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Mayor Breed started the news conference with some optimistic news saying, "Well, the good news is things are starting to plateau."

She said the city is still seeing additional cases, and hospitalizations are still high, but "we have the capacity to handle what is coming our way."

Dr. Colfax says San Francisco has seen COVID-19 cases drop "relatively rapidly in the city."

"We can now confidently say that we are on the beginning of a downward trajectory with regards to this search. Our latest data show that our cases peaked on Jan. 9, with a seven-day average of 2,164 cases per day and have steadily dropped each day since then to 1,705* cases per day on Jan. 12."

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"This is good news," he said. He added that the vast majority of the cases have been mild because people were fully vaccinated with the first series of shots and many others have been boosted.

Despite 82% of people in San Francisco being fully vaccinated, Mayor Breed sends a reminder that essential workers have been impacted by omicron. "A lot of our police officers, our firefighters, our Muni drivers, our Department of Public Health Workers and those at San Francisco General are out with omicron."

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"The surge is not over yet," Dr. Colfax said. "Hospitalizations which trail the peak in cases will still continue to go up. Fortunately, for now, we expect to meet capacity within the healthcare system to take care of people both with COVID and with other health care needs in our hospitals. We are urging people to remain particularly vigilant for a little bit longer cases are still very high."

Dr. Colfax says the goal isn't to prevent every COVID case. He says omicron has proved that it's simply not possible. "Our goal is to prevent the worst outcomes, severe disease, hospitalizations and death. And with regard to that, I just want to ground ourselves in comparison to last year. Last year, we lost 165 San Franciscans to COVID in January of 2021. This month to date, we have lost five. Now we don't know what COVID has in store for us."

He also said COVID-19 testing needs to be accessible, affordable and fast. "We are working with our state and federal partners to make rapid over-the-counter tests easy to come by and are requiring our healthcare system partners to step up and do their part with regard to testing just as they've done with hospitalizations."

Mayor Breed also threw her support for restaurants and other small businesses which have felt the impact of the omicron variant since the holidays.

"My hope is that as we begin to reopen and as we see the numbers decline that we continue to be careful but we continue to go out and support our restaurants, that we order and pick up from our restaurants and our various businesses. That we support our small businesses," said Mayor Breed.

The San Francisco Commerce Department recently reported a 20 percent declines in foot traffic in the downtown area since early December when omicron cases began to surface.

*An earlier version of this story said 1,076 cases were reported regarding the 7-day average of COVID-19 cases in San Francisco on Jan. 12. The SF public health department informed us a short time later it is 1,705 cases.

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