First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic Crashes In Southeast San Francisco

Southeastern San Francisco and the 94124 zip code rank second highest in COVID-19 cases per 10,000 residents according to Department of Public Health Mapping released on April 20, 2020.
SFDPH Map of COVID-19 cases in San Francisco documents a citywide rate of 14.23 cases per 10,000 residents. The 94124 zip code in Bayview Hunters Point ranks second highest with 27,89 cases per 10,000 residents…more than double the citywide rate! Note the mapping does not identify COVID-19 deaths by zip code.
EPA map of particle pollution documents greater than 20 tons per year in the 94124 zip code. Note the overlay between maps of COVID-19 cases and particle pollution density in southeast San Francisco.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke at his daily briefing on April 23, 2020 and addressed, for the first time in the national dialogue, the perfect storm generated by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on dense low income, industrialized communities of color where cardiopulmonary diseases like asthma are exacerbated by exposure to the novel coronavirus along with air pollution and toxins from low paying service work in polluting industries.

On April 20, 2020, the San Francisco Department of Public Health released a map of confirmed cases of COVID-19 by zip code. That map corresponds to EPA mapping of city zip codes with the highest particulate matter emissions in tons per year.

Of note, over 20 tons of particulate emissions are generated in the 94124 zip code each year by construction dust, polluting industries and mobile sources. The 94124 zip code ranks second highest in COVID-19 cases per 10,000 population. An estimated 35 people live in the 94124 zip code. In interpreting the citywide COVID — 19 case map it is crucial to note that while the zipcodes 94110 and 94112 report the highest number of cases, they represent wide geographic areas with populations double to triple that of 94124.

Proposition 65 Warning at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard

Prepared statements issued by San Francisco Mayor London Breed include the grossly inaccurate misinformation: “I want to stress that when it comes to coronavirus, no zip code or neighborhood is inherently safer than another.”

This is obviously not true! The San Francisco COVID-19 Response Map clearly identifies regions of the cities westside with fewer than 4 cases reported. Indeed the 94132 zip code I reside in has NO reported cases and is not even included in the San Francisco mapping.

The most important information missing from the SFDPH COVID-19 case map are zip codes for the cities 21 reported deaths. Demographic breakdown of COVID — 19 deaths by race, gender and age show 11 were Asian, the majority male and over 60 years in age. The zip code distribution for San Francisco’s COVID-19 deaths is not documented.

We know the 94124 zip code harbors inordinate incidences of cardiopulmonary diseases, diabetes and disabilities that increase the risk of contracting COVID-19. We know lung diseases caused by chronic exposure to airborne toxins look exactly like COVID -19 lung diseases and are called Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD).

The pulmonary interstitium is part of the lungs’ anatomy. According to WebMD, the interstitium is a lace like tissue spread throughout the lung that supports the air sacs and allows for gas exchange between the lungs and the blood stream.

Interstitial lung disease occurs in both COVID-19 infection and in people chronically exposed to air pollution. Little focus has been given to the fact the disproportionate incidence of COVID-19 cases and deaths occurring in densely populated low income communities of color- like San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point 94124 zip code- are contributed to by co-morbid risk of damage to the same regions of the lung by both toxic air contaminants and the novel corona virus.

The interstitium is a lace like tissue spread throughout the lungs that supports the air sacs and allows the gas exchange between the blood stream and the lungs. Interstitial lung disease is caused by thickening and scarring of the interstitium that interferes with oxygen exchange.

When the delicate lace like tissue called the interstitium becomes damaged and inflammed by COVID-19 and toxic air contaminants, it thickens causing gas exchange in the lung to fail.
A series of chest xrays reveal the characteristic ground glass appearance seen in interstitial lung disease. Damage to lung tissue called interstitium from either COVID-19 infection or exposure to air pollution leads to lung diseases, cough and difficulty breathing. The San Francisco Department of Public Health does not categorize interstitial lung disease as a separate and distinct form of cardiopulmonary disease.

Peter Boraschi, MD concludes COVID-19 pulmonary involvement is really an interstitial pneumonia and discusses imaging features of Corona Virus disease 2019 finding “all patients showed ground glass opacity” on xray imaging. https://www.ncbi/nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7158787.

“In December 2019, a new type of coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) emerged in Wuan and spread rapidly to China and over 100 countries around the world. The lung injury and repair caused by COVID-19 has many similarities with the onset and progression of interstitial lung disease. “Chinese researchers discuss challenges and management of COVID-19 in Interstitial Lung Disease. https://pubmedncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32198915

The Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program has detected toxic elements present in soils at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, it’s landfills and in the serpentinite bedrock of the Hunters Point hilltop where tons of asbestos and toxin containing particulates were generated by grading activities beginning in 2005.

In a March 2019 letter to Mayor London Breed, Tomas Aragon, MD DrPH, SFDPH Director of Population Health, documented a 31% increase in lung cancer in men residing in the 94124 zip code he attributed to cigarette smoking. There has been no corresponding increase in smoking in the 94124 zip code to warrant that conclusion. Indeed, the 2019 SFDPH Community Health Needs Assessment documents an 18% decline in tobacco retailers, a 10% decline in the number of packs of cigarettes sold in San Francisco and finds the 94124 zip code has an incidence of cigarette packs sold that is lower than many east and westside zip codes.

Unprotected worker exposed to airborne toxins and particulates in uncovered piles of dust at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard — a federal Superfund site. The finding of a 31% increase in lung cancer among men in the 94124 zip code is likely the cumulative result of living and working in this industrialized region. Photo: Lennar
A rare chart from the SFDPH 2004 Community Health Assessment documents top contributors to excess lives lost in 94124. Note violence is the leading cause of preventable loss of life followed by cardiopulmonary diseases linked to smoking and air pollution and cancers of lung, trachea and bronchi.The San Francisco Department of Public Health no longer tracks cancer by zip code. The 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment does not include cancer and cardiopulmonary diseases as a category for health needs. https://www.sfdph.org/dph/hc/HCAgen/2019/May7/CHNA_2019_Report_041819_Stage4.pdf
Healthy Lungs Matter — The COVID-19 pandemic leads to death in those who develop diseases due to damage to the lung tissue called interstitial lung disease. In people exposed to toxic air contaminants including particulates, asbestos, silica and volatilized compounds chronic damage to the lung tissue causes interstitial lung disease.

The Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program encourages all 35,492 residents of the high risk 94124 zip code to seek diagnostic and antibody testing for COVID-19 along with urinary screening for airborne toxins known to be present at the federal Superfund site and polluting industries. HP Biomonitoring is committed to offering expert clinical nutrition consultations and referrals for standard of care evaluation of symptoms due to interstitial and fibrotic lung disease caused by exposure to toxic, allergic and infectious agents.

HP Biomonitoring…Detect…Protect…Prevent!

Medical Director - Golden State MD Health & Wellness. UCSF/Stanford Author & Researcher. PI HP Biomonitoring. Certified Clinical Nutritionist. PoliticoMD!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store