San Francisco pushes vaccines as infections see 10-fold increase amid Delta variant surge

San Francisco has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the world, but it is still seeing a sharp 10-fold increase in infections, primarily among the unvaccinated.

Public health data shows a rapid rise in COVID-cases to 176 per day in the county compared to just 12 in early June. But even the current rate is less than half of the peak back in January.

Despite 77% of the city’s population considered fully vaccinated, the unvaccinated and highly contagious Delta Variant are being blamed on this fourth major surge.

"Vaccines remain our ticket out of this pandemic and they continue to work extremely well," San Francisco Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said. "If you’re not vaccinated right now, this is not a good time to be in that situation."

The city is making a forceful push to encourage the unvaccinated to get shots immediately.

Colfax said up to 95% of COVID-related hospitalizations are preventable. There have been no deaths from the virus among the fully vaccinated.

Still, breakthrough cases are occurring. Dozens of medical workers are out sick at hospitals like San Francisco General after contracting COVID-19, causing a strain on the entire system.

Infections among vaccinated healthcare workers are occurring at places outside of medical facilities, Colfax said.

"We’re monitoring the situation carefully," he said. "They’re unlikely to experience serious disease but it reinforces the importance of vaccines to protect our healthcare system and our healthcare workers."

As a result, a countywide or potentially Bay Area wide indoor mask mandate is being considered. A decision is expected next week.

"We are vigorously exploring the issuing a mask mandate and are in discussions with other counties," Colfax said.

Cases are expected to increase in the weeks ahead but health experts said it could curtail if people take the vaccines seriously.

While the shots do not provide 100% protection, a vaccinated person is likely to only experience minor symptoms associated with the common cold if infected. 

Brooks Jarosz is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @BrooksKTVU