San Francisco will run out of ICU beds by Dec. 26 if current trend continues, Dr. Colfax warns

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax had a grim warning for residents Friday as COVID-19 cases surge statewide: If the virus continues to spread at the current rate, the city will run out of ICU hospital beds by Dec. 26.

Mayor London Breed matched that outlook, saying if you're not staying ahead of the virus, you're falling far behind, very quickly.

To curb the spread, San Francisco is joining several other Bay Area jurisdictions in implementing a stay-at-home order ahead of state action.

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Unlike Gov. Gavin Newsom's plan announced Thursday, the Bay Area's regional stay-at-home order will take effect this Sunday, lasting through Jan. 6.

Breed was clear in her message Friday, what San Francisco is going through is difficult, but "there is a light at the end of the tunnel."

WATCH: Mayor Breed says what San Francisco is going through is difficult, but 'there is a light at the end of the tunnel'
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Mayor Breed says what San Francisco is going through is difficult, but "there is a light at the end of the tunnel."

Hospitalization and cases are rising in San Francisco, and Dr. Colfax said those numbers are likely to worsen in the coming days and weeks.

The city is averaging 140 new cases per day, compared to just 34 per day in October.

"We were in a much better place back then," Breed said.

Colfax said the city has about one week to stabilize the number of COVID-19 patients in the city's hospital system.

"Our biggest fear all along is that we won't have a bed for you or your mother or your grandmother or grandfather when they get sick," Breed said. "(It's) the reality we'll be facing unless we slow the spread. The measures we've tried so far simply haven't bent the curve the way we need it to."

RELATED: 5 Bay Area counties to announce new restrictions, sources say

Under the Bay Area stay-at-home order, restaurants will be limited to takeout and delivery, personal services like nail salons and hair salons will close and retail store capacity will be capped at 20%.

If the virus continues at the current rate, Dr. Colfax believes San Francisco hospitals will have a shortage of ICU beds by Dec. 26.
"If this trend continues, and we do not slow the spread of the virus, we will be unable to care for people in San Francisco's hospitals, and it's not only because of beds, but it's because we will not have enough nurses and doctors to adequately care for people," Colfax warned.

Colfax said 75% of hospital beds in California are currently filled.

"There will be no place to transfer patients. There will be no other place from which to hire more nurses or doctors, which we would otherwise be able to do in a localized health crisis," Colfax warned.

He emphasized this is why the city is taking such "aggressive action."

"This time it will be tough, but the alternative is unthinkable," Colfax said.

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