San Francisco COVID Cases Up 50% Since Thanksgiving; First Vaccines Arrive

Updated: Dec 17, 2020


  • New COVID cases in San Francisco have risen 50% since Thanksgiving, a predicted outcome as many residents traveled and gathered against the urging of health officials

  • San Francisco International Airport reports that about 170,000 people flew out of SFO between Nov. 20 and Nov. 29

  • The first batch of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, amounting to 2,000 doses, arrived at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Monday. Frontline health care workers will begin receiving the vaccine right away; members of the general public will likely wait much longer

  • ICU beds in the Bay Area dropped to 12.9% capacity on Monday, triggering a region-wide stay home order, per California's state guidelines, and a 10-day travel quarantine

As predicted, new COVID-19 cases in San Francisco have risen sharply since the Thanksgiving holiday, during which many people traveled and gathered against the warnings of public health officials.


The City recorded 323 new cases on Saturday, the highest daily number since the pandemic begin, and rolling averages of new case counts are up roughly 50% since Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, 148 patients are hospitalized and 37 are in intensive care units, San Francisco Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax said at a press conference on Monday.


"We estimate that there are currently 2,897 diagnosed, active cases in San Francisco, and that's just diagnosed," said Colfax, once again urging residents not to celebrate holidays with people outside their households.


Hospitals in the City will run out of intensive care unit beds in three to four weeks if hospitalizations increase at the rate they are currently, Colfax said.


On Tuesday, ICU beds across the Bay Area had dropped to 12.9% capacity, triggering a regional stay-home order per the state's guidelines. California's regional stay-home orders go into effect if ICU beds fall below 15% capacity.


Public health officials had strongly urged people not to travel or to gather for the Thanksgiving holiday, but millions of people in the U.S. did anyway.


Nationwide, Thanksgiving eve was the biggest airline travel day since the beginning of the pandemic according to the TSA. The Bay Area was no exception: San Francisco International Airport reports that about 170,000 people flew out of SFO between Nov. 20 and Nov. 29.


In response to the case surge, San Francisco announced on Thursday a mandatory 10-day quarantine for anyone traveling into the City from outside the Bay Area. The quarantine order, which will be in effect at least through Jan. 4, carries the threat of a fine or imprisonment for anyone found to be in violation.


Meanwhile, the first batch of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, amounting to 2,000 doses, arrived at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Monday.


Vaccinations of front-line health are workers are already underway, with the first doses administered at San Francisco General Hospital on Tuesday.


Further details of the vaccine rollouts will be determined in the coming weeks, with frontline workers and members of high-risk groups expected to receive priority distribution.

Members of the general public may have to wait several more weeks or months to get vaccinated, and public officials are urging continued vigilance.


The arrival of the vaccine marks "a light at the end of the tunnel" for San Francisco, said Mayor London Breed.s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Image by Jake Buonemani
Image by Rasmus Gundorff Sæderup
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