Like a wildfire spraying hot embers, the coronavirus pandemic is now flaring in communities around the country, with growth curves in New Orleans, Michigan and Illinois that resemble those of 10 days ago in New York City — which in turn mirror those of early 2020 in Italy and Wuhan, China.
But California — and particularly San Francisco, where I live — appears to be following a different course, with relatively low rates of COVID-19 cases and mortality. In San Francisco, there are few signs of an imminent spike. Our experience may hold lessons for the rest of the country, especially on the importance of aggressive public and corporate steps to promote social distancing.
As recently as March 10, the rates of confirmed coronavirus infection in New York City and San Francisco were roughly the same: New York City had seven cases and San Francisco had 14. On Monday evening, New York City had more than 38,000 confirmed cases and 914 deaths; San Francisco had over 374 cases and six deaths.
At my hospital, the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, we have been caring for eight to 14 patients with confirmed COVID-19 at a time, with a few new admissions each day. At comparably sized academic health centers in New York City, the COVID-19 census has been in in the hundreds and, tragically, all of these hospitals have seen scores of deaths. [Continue reading…]