While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in San Francisco remain at alarming levels, the city is making progress in rolling out the vaccine, with city leaders on Tuesday estimating some 80,000 health care workers have already received the vaccine.
Currently, the city is seeing 237 new cases daily on average, down from an average of 270 new cases daily a week ago. Whether the recent holidays contributed to an uptick in cases won’t be known for at least two weeks, city officials said.
Although hospitalizations as a result of COVID-19 are on the rise, the city is in good shape with 35 percent of its intensive care unit beds available. The amount of ICU beds available throughout the Bay Area as a region, however, is at just 5.9 percent.
Because the number of ICU beds for the entire region falls well under the state’s 15 percent threshold, the city will remain under a state-mandated stay-at-home order.
“At this point San Francisco and the entire Bay Area are under the stay home order for the near future. That means we currently no control over lifting most restrictions like those related to outdoor dining or personal services,” Mayor London Breed said during a virtual briefing.
So far, the San Francisco Department of Public Health has given the vaccine to 6,000 people, including frontline workers at Laguna Honda and Zuckerberg General Hospital and paramedic and EMTs.
On Monday, the SFDPH began giving the vaccine to the more than 715 residents at Laguna Honda, a long-term care facility for the elderly operated by SFDPH. As of Tuesday, 90 percent of residents have been given the vaccine.
A breakout at the facility last March resulted in 29 COVID-19 cases, including 11 residents and 18 staff members.
“Protecting the residents at Laguna Honda is very personal to me. My grandmother lived there for years at the end of her own life,” Breed said. “So, I know what those residents are feeling, I know what their families are feeling because they are not able to visit. Our fight to keep this virus out of Laguna Honda has been a fight to keep these people alive, until we could do what we started doing yesterday, protecting them from the vaccine.”
The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine is being coordinated by the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and distributed directly by health care providers, meaning the city has little control over the rollout.
“Unlike testing, we do not have local control of how the vaccine is sent to San Francisco, or how much is received,” San Francisco Department of Public Health director Dr. Grant Colfax said.
“This is an unprecedented undertaking, the mass vaccination of the entire nation to end the pandemic. We are working hard but right now the vaccine supplies remain limited and right now many questions remain unanswered with regard how soon vaccine supplies will be in demand. But please know, that we expect everyone who wants a vaccine will get one eventually,” Colfax said.
Although Colfax couldn’t say how many doses of the vaccine have been distributed to the city’s health care providers, Colfax estimates about 80,000 health care workers have already been vaccinated citywide by their employers.
Under the state’s next vaccine distribution phase, other frontline and essential workers like public safety workers, grocery store employees, teachers and people over 75 years old are next in line to get the vaccine.