Why is the rate of SF COVID cases so much higher than in the US right now?

Why is the rate of SF COVID cases so much higher than in the US right now?

Earlier this spring, the city’s new confirmed case rates surpassed those in the United States. Then, on May 3, San Francisco’s case rate doubled that of the United States. As of May 10, the national daily case rate was around 23 new cases per 100,000 people. , while in SF the rate was 42 per 100,000, according to New York Times data analyzed by The Chronicle.

Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at UCSF, said San Francisco’s current high case rates are likely due to the city being relatively immune to the disease over the past two years, combined with the makes city dwellers take more risks in the era of the local pandemic. restrictions and messages decrease.

“You can only protect yourself for so long,” Chin-Hong said. “Once people are tired or fed up for various reasons, and you move around, you’re going to put yourself at increased risk.”

Because San Francisco has done such a good job of keeping its residents from becoming infected for most of the pandemic, he explained, fewer San Franciscans have acquired immunity to a previous illness, so they are overall more likely to catch COVID-19 right now than other residents of other cities.

And although a greater proportion of San Franciscans are vaccinated than the entire United States, COVID-19 vaccines have become less effective at preventing infections as coronavirus strains have mutated, he added.

While a COVID-19 surge is never good news, Chin-Hong said so far, at least, rising case rates haven’t led to a corresponding large increase in hospitalizations — likely. due to the number of vaccinated and boosted San Franciscans. Vaccines may have become less effective against infections as the virus mutates, but they’re still great at preventing serious illness and death.

“If I had to choose one ailment over another, I would hands down choose people who don’t really get sick,” Chin-Hong said.

Hospitalizations have increased in San Francisco since April, but are still well below previous waves, according to city data. The city’s average hospitalization rate as of May 9 was 6.4 per 100,000 population, higher than the current U.S. rate of 4.5 per 100,000 but a smaller gap than you might expect given of the difference in case rates.

A similar phenomenon is bearing fruit in San Francisco at the neighborhood level: Right now, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the city’s wealthier neighborhoods have seen an extended period of higher case rates. than those on low incomes.

As The Chronicle previously reported, that’s likely because previous waves, particularly January’s omicron tidal wave, have given low-income neighborhoods a boost of immunity that’s helping them fight this current surge. .

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