San Francisco Mayor London Breed said Friday that the city might be able to reopen soon because its coronavirus transmission rate has dipped.
Breed tweeted that San Francisco could soon start to emerge from its state-ordered lockdown because the city’s so-called reproductive rate is at 0.99. A reproductive rate represents how many people an infected person can transmit the virus to.
“That means for every person who gets COVID-19, on average they’re passing it to less than one other person. We’re slowing the spread,” Breed said.
“Anything less than 1, we’re doing OK,” Dr. Lee Riley, an infectious disease expert at UC Berkeley told the Chronicle last year. “But the speed of the reduction is certainly related to how far below 1 the reproductive number is. The lower the number, the faster the epidemic will finish.”
San Francisco can only start to reopen when the state gives a green light to the entire Bay Area. California’s guidelines say a region can reopen when its intensive care unit capacity is projected to hit at least 15% availability within a four week period. The Sacramento region was recently allowed to reopen based on those metrics.
The Bay Area’s ICU availability is currently 6.6%. Infections are falling across the region — the seven-day average for new cases in the nine counties was 49.8 per 100,000 people on Jan. 21, down from 60.9 per 100,000 on Jan. 14.
San Francisco’s COVID-19 reproductive rate is back under 1, at 0.99!
That means for every person who gets COVID-19, on average they’re passing it to less than one other person. We’re slowing the spread.
If this continues, we could soon start reopening under CA’s guidelines.
— London Breed (@LondonBreed) January 22, 2021
Breed’s tweet comes hours after the city opened its first of three mass vaccination sites at City College on Ocean Avenue near Interstate 280. Breed’s plan is to eventually administer 10,000 coronavirus vaccinations per day, with the goal of immunizing all eligible residents by June 30, but the city is a long way from hitting those daily goals because of a vaccine shortage.
At a press conference at City College, officials said San Francisco expects to get less vaccine for the city-run health network next week than it did this week, when it came close to running out. Public Health Director Grant Colfax said “things are headed in the right direction for now” when it comes to cases.
As of Friday, San Francisco has a 4.3% 7-day positivity rate. The city’s seven-day average of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people fell from 39.4 on Jan. 14 to 30 on Jan. 21. Currently, 234 people are hospitalized, down from a high of 259 on Jan. 12.
Breed added that despite the encouraging signs, San Franciscans need to remain vigilant. “But we all need to keep doing what we know slows the spread of this virus: wear a mask, avoid indoor gatherings with people you don’t live with, ventilate indoor spaces when you’re around other people, and wash your hands frequently,” she tweeted. “Let’s keep this up!”
Chronicle staff writer Trisha Thadani contributed to this report.
Jessia Flores is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] tthadani