Cases reach new heights, but serious illness and death decline


Concerns over COVID-19
appeared to take a back seat
in many people’s minds during the holidays. But the
continued to spread in 2022 in San Francisco and across the state, as well as sickening and killing many people.

In 2022, the third year of the pandemic, San Francisco had about 118,000 confirmed cases — about 2.5 times as many as in 2021, according to data as of Dec. 27. Statewide, there were about 2 million more cases in 2022 than the year before.

Most of the blame falls on the ultra-contagious omicron variant, which spiked to record highs early in the year, followed by a summer swell of cases caused by descendants including BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5.

Many of the new
COVID cases
in 2022 — in San Francisco and across the state — happened in the earlier months of the year during the omicron spike.

The virus
continued to evolve
after that, including the summer subvariants and then strains in the fall that were even more immune evasive, such as
BQ.1 and BQ.1.1.

But though the new versions of the coronavirus kept cases mounting, hospitalizations and deaths didn’t rise at the same rate. “While omicron is more contagious than previous variants, therefore resulting in more cases, it is also less fatal,” according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

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