911 calls spike in San Francisco with callers asking for COVID help

Demand for emergency medical assistance in San Francisco stabilized to typical levels on Saturday night, following a spike in calls last week due to residents seeking help for COVID-19 symptoms, officials said. 

There were 318 calls for service on Saturday night, with 32 "medic-to-follow" where a patient waited for an available ambulance, according to the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management.   

That's a significant drop from Friday, when there were 408 medical calls for service with 205 medic-to-follows.  

"Thanks for looking out for each other #SF!," the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management posted Sunday on Twitter. "Last night: Fewer emergency medical calls & more ambulances available for life-threatening emergencies."   

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Emergency officials said they need to analyze the latest numbers to find out if it means fewer people were seeking assistance on Saturday for mild COVID-19 symptoms than the previous night.   

Nevertheless they are hoping the trend will continue, and urged residents to avoid calling 911 unless they have a life-threatening emergency.   

"Most cases of COVID-19 are mild and can be safety treated at home," the agency said in a news release on Sunday. "The public is urged to look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19, and to seek emergency medical care only when there is a life-threatening situation."   

The surge in COVID-19 Omicron variant infections has burdened the city's emergency medical system, which has many personnel who have been exposed to COVID-19 and are in quarantine.   

On Friday, Mayor London Breed said city staffers out due to COVID included 184 police employees, 140 fire department staffers and 122 Muni workers.   Anyone who tests positive, even if they are asymptomatic, should assume they are infected with COVID-19 and take measures to get care and isolate away from others, emergency officials said. 

They should also notify their healthcare provider about the positive test result. 

Anyone who doesn't have a provider or needs assistance with isolation can connect with the San Francisco Department of Public Health COVID Resource Center at (628) 217-6101.