Thursday, December 8

COVID in California: Latest updates about the coronavirus in the Bay Area and state

California’s COVID-19 case rates seem to be stalled again, at a high level, after a period of fluctuating numbers and a few days that looked like the situation might be improving. But tourism, San Francisco’s biggest industry, finally appears to be pulling out of the pandemic doldrums and returning to the city. And President Biden is back in isolation, one of the small percentage of people who get “rebound” COVID cases after they take the antiviral Paxlovid treatment.

Biden has rebound case, but “continues to feel well”

President Biden now is among the COVID-19 fraternity who have suffered a “rebound” case after treatment with the antiviral drug Paxlovid. Biden tested positive for COVID-19 for the second straight day on Saturday, the White House said. On Sunday, in a letter noting the positive test, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the White House physician, said Biden “continues to feel well” and will keep on working from the executive residence while he isolates. After his positive test Saturday, Biden had to cancel travel and in-person events as he isolates for at least five days in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Biden initially tested positive July 21, and after a course of Paxlovid he tested negative for the virus last Tuesday and Wednesday. Research suggests that a minority of those prescribed Paxlovid experience a rebound case of the virus.

California’s COVID trends hit a plateau

California’s average COVID case and positive test rates maybe stabilizing again, after weeks of fluctuating numbers and a few days that seemed to show improvement, according to public health data analyzed by The Chronicle. The state was averaging 42 daily cases per 100,000 residents in the most recent state data, a number that held steady last week, on par with where the state was at the start of July. The Bay Area has hovered around 37 to 40 new daily cases per 100,000 over last week. California’s test positive rate, which tracks the proportion of tests coming back positive, bounced back up to 15.8% on Friday after dipping to 15.2% earlier week. Infectious disease experts say the rate should be below 5% to control the spread of the virus. Read more about the COVID trends in the state and Bay Area here.

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City by the Bay is pulling in tourists again

After a brutal two-year pandemic stretch — interspersed with periods when San Francisco was all but devoid of visitors — the city’s biggest industry appears to have finally turned a corner. Citywide, visitor numbers are expected to hit 21.9 million this year, which is 84% of 2019 levels and an encouraging leap above last year’s 14.8 million. Visitor spending is expected to nearly double this year to $6.1 billion from just $3.1 billion last year. However, that’s still far below the record-high $10.3 billion visitors spent here in 2019. Read more about what’s happening with the return of tourism in San Francisco.

Doctor who reported threats by opponents of vaccines and restrictions is found dead

Austrian political leaders are expressing shock over the death of a doctor who closed her practice after she reported receiving death threats from opponents of COVID-19 restrictions and vaccines. The body of Dr. Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, a general practitioner who had publicly stressed the effectiveness of vaccination, was found at her practice office in a rural area of northern Austria on Friday, according to Austrian media quoted by the Associated Press. Prosecutors confirmed a suicide, saying notes were found, but they declined to divulge the contents, the Austria Press Agency reported. Kellermayr announced a month ago that she was closing the practice temporarily after more than seven months of receiving death threats. In mid-July, Kellermayr permanently closed the practice because she couldn’t “offer any perspective for whether or when it will be possible for us to work under ‘normal’ circumstances.”

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Unvaccinated tennis champ hoping to play in U.S. Open

Novak Djokovic is holding out hope that he’ll be able to compete at the U.S. Open despite not being vaccinated against the coronavirus. The 21-time Grand Slam champion said Saturday on his social media accounts that he’s been training as if he’ll play at Flushing Meadows when the last major of the year begins Aug. 29. “I am preparing as if I will be allowed to compete, while I await to hear if there is any room for me to travel to US. Fingers crossed!” he wrote. The United States does not allow unvaccinated noncitizens to enter the country, which is why the Serb needed to sit out big events in Indian Wells, Calif., and Miami this season.

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