San Francisco to Open ‘Low Acuity' Care Center for Expected COVID-19 Surge

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As hospitalizations of COVID-19-positive patients in San Francisco reach an all-time high, city officials on Thursday announced the city will open a new low acuity medical facility in the Presidio in order to free up hospital beds and make room for coronavirus patients

The new site, located at 1163 and 1167 Gorgas Ave., will not treat COVID-19 patients but instead will provide medical care for people who need hospitalized care or who have recently been discharged from the hospital but still need short-term care.

The site will open with just 20 patients but will eventually expand to serve as many as 93 patients, Supervisor Catherine Stefani said during a news conference. Stefani's supervisorial district includes the Presidio.

"Our demand for acute care for COVID-positive patients has grown at a rate of 15 percent each week during the month of July -- this is of grave concern," Stefani said. "As we see more and more cases and increasing levels of hospitalizations, we must act upon that concern."

"The city's ability to confront COVID-19 depends on our ability to care for those who have all manner of medical conditions. San Franciscans continue to experience everything from sprained ankles to broken legs, to infections, to heart attacks during these difficult times," she said. "Opening this facility will allow the city to shore up our medical resources 

and bolster our hospital capacity."

Currently, the city remains on the state watchlist, as it's seeing as many as 98 new cases on average a day, according to city Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax.

In total, the city has recorded 6,423 COVID-19 positive cases, including 57 deaths. Additionally, there are currently 107 San Franciscans who are hospitalized due to the virus, with about a quarter of them in intensive care.

"Let me be clear, we are in a major surge of COVID-19," Colfax said. "The virus is moving fast and more people are getting ill. If things continue at the current rates, we estimate that on average will have more than 750 San Franciscans in the hospital by mid-October. And more than 600 deaths from COVID-19 in 2020. Plausible worst-case scenarios put us at 2,400 hospitalizations and 1,800 deaths. These scenarios unfortunately become more 

likely as each day goes by with the current trends."

Despite the rising numbers, Colfax said the city still has enough hospital beds for COVID-19 patients and the hospital system isn't yet overwhelmed.

The number of available hospital beds, among other key factors, are being used to guide the city's plans to reopen businesses in phases, plans that remain on hold amid the virus' surge.

City officials are reminding residents that face coverings are required for people ages 10 and up in most public settings, both indoors and outdoors, per the city's updated health order. Additionally, social distancing as well as regular hand washing are also being urged.

According to Colfax, large social gatherings happening in the city are contributing to the surge.

"It is so important people do not gather outside their household if at all possible. And certainly, people should not be using testing as a tool to decide whether they can gather or not with others," he said. "We have to understand that with more virus in the community now than ever ... the odds of someone being infected at one of these gatherings has increased dramatically over the last few weeks. Please don't gather."

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