Models suggest the current COVID surge will be over by Pride weekend

Good news for Pride celebrations! While the current spike in COVID cases doesn’t seem to stop anyone relatively young from partying right now, a local infectious disease expert says the surge should peak in the next week or so and be over by the end of June.

“[This surge was] so expected. It was seen in New York, Britain saw it, Europe saw it,” says Dr. Monica Gandhi, the UCSF infectious disease specialist who was kind of a pragmatist/optimist about COVID from the start.

Speaking to ABC 7 today, Dr. Gandhi: “We will probably see that BA2.12.1 peak in early June according to these models. And then we should be out of that by the third week of June.”

Daily COVID case numbers are still high in San Francisco and elsewhere in California — with cases starting to rise locally before they did in the rest of the state. And those numbers remain grossly undercounted because of the widespread use of at-home testing and people with mild cases who don’t seek PCR tests, which will take days to confirm what they already know.

As SFist noted earlier this week, COVID hospitalizations in California are up 100% from a mid-April low, and in the Bay Area they are back to early March levels. As of Thursday, there were 703 people with COVID in Bay Area hospitals — some of whom may have been admitted for unrelated medical conditions and were found to have COVID. The last time the number of hospital admissions in our region surpassed 700 was March 4th.

“Cases are occurring in places that have less natural immunity, and unfortunately that would be here in California because we’ve been in lockdown a lot more than other states,” said Dr. Gandhi to ABC 7.

On the plus side, far fewer people are in intensive care units than previous waves and deaths remain uncommon.

“We have high vaccination rates — higher than almost any other state, and besides, any immunity we get now even from cases, on top of vaccine-induced immunity, makes our rate of serious diseases even lower,” Gandhi added. “So we have to get through this period.”

Data for San Francisco suggests cases here may have leveled off as early as a week ago, with the seven-day moving average of new cases hitting 486 on May 19. The trajectory of this surge was not nearly as steep as the first Omicron wave, although it was clear that there are still plenty of viruses floating around.

Diagram via SF Dept. of Public Health

So far: COVID hospitalizations in California up 100% from mid-April low; Bay Area returns to early March levels

Photo: Mercedes Mehling

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