UCSF doctor predicts Bay Area could be approaching 'regional endemic' in next 4 weeks

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Tuesday, February 1, 2022
UCSF doctor predicts Bay Area could be in 'regional endemic' soon
UCSF Dr. Bob Wachter San Francisco Bay Area could be in a regional endemic state in the next 4 weeks as omicron peak subsides.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- COVID cases are going down significantly in San Francisco giving emergency medicine doctors hope as we approach the potential downfall of omicron in the city.

According to the latest data, COVID cases in San Francisco are down by 50 percent while hospitalizations are down 10 percent.

Dr. Bob Wachter is the chair of UCSF's Department of Medicine. He is citing omicron has turned the corner in San Francisco.

"In a room of 20 people in San Francisco, today is probably somewhere about a 30 to 50 percent chance that one of the people has COVID. That doesn't mean you are going to get it. If you are wearing a mask your risk is very low. If you are wearing an N95 your risk is essentially 0," said Dr. Wachter.

To get the perspective from inside the hospital we spoke to the chiefs of the busiest emergency departments in San Francisco. At UCSF Parnassus campus Dr. Raven is finally seeing a drop.

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"About three weeks ago, I think we were in the 140 (range) and today we are in the 90 (range). So that is a significant drop in hospitalizations but it is of course more than what we would like to see," said Dr. Raven.

At Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Dr. Colwell is still reporting a peak in cases. He's been admitting 10 to 15 COVID patients per day for the last two weeks.

"We are in the same boat that we have been for the last 10 days to two weeks. Where we were in the mid 50 (range) and above in terms of patients in the hospital and significantly more that we see in the emergency department," said Dr. Colwell.

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Both emergency departments are noticing a trend of those who are coming in with COVID now.

"They were vaccinated with the initial vaccination schedule but did not get boosted," said Dr. Colwell.

Luz Pena: "Are you feeling hopeful?"

Dr. Colwell: "I'm feeling hopeful. We haven't seen the impact in the hospital yet but I do believe there is light at the end of the tunnel."

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Dr. Wachter believes we'll be closer to an endemic in the next four weeks

"I'm pretty comfortable prediction that will be where we go. That puts us at least in a regional endemic state meaning that is not dominating people's lives. People can begin letting down their guard and doing some things they haven't done before," said Dr. Wachter.

Historically hospitalization lag behind case counts by a week or two. That's why emergency medicine doctors believe we are not out of the woods yet.

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