San Diego County health official provide details on current ICU bed capacity

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – San Diego County reported 15 deaths and 2,104 new COVID-19 infections today, the second-highest daily case total and one that comes as hospitalizations continue to surge.

The infections reported Wednesday are second only to Friday’s record 2,287 and raise the county’s cumulative total to 97,549.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said she anticipates the total cases to cross 100,000 before the end of the week.

Another 15 deaths and 36 hospitalizations were reported Wednesday, raising the death toll to 1,103 and the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations since the pandemic began to 4,987.

Wednesday’s numbers mark the ninth consecutive day with more than 1,000 new reported cases and the 17th day of the last 20 to meet that mark. It is just the third time the daily cases have crossed 2,000 — all of which have come in the past week.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher offered a somber message as he reminded county residents hospitalizations tend to lag, showing the effects of increased cases after 21-24 days. Thanksgiving was 14 days ago.

Fletcher tweeted out a grim message Monday evening, telling San Diego we may run out of ICU beds by next week.

“We don’t want to waste an entire year of sacrifice,” he said. “The aim and intention of what we are doing right now is to limit the interaction of those from different households.”

Both Fletcher and fellow Supervisor Greg Cox said they weren’t happy with the stay-at-home orders, but according to data presented Tuesday by Natasha Martin, UC San Diego associate professor of medicine, without serious shut down actions, the county was looking at filling every intensive care bed before Christmas.

Martin’s model shows a significant reprieve if there is a three-week stay-at-home order. An eight-week shut down — according to Martin’s model — would be even more effective in quashing rising COVID-19 rates.

“Vaccinations are on the way,” Cox said before urging personal responsibility. “But we can’t wait for the cavalry to arrive.”

As it stands Wednesday, San Diego County has 915 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, 228 in intensive care units. The county’s hospitals still have 20% of their ICU beds available, but that could shift rapidly if cases continue unabated.

The county has seen a 196% increase in COVID-19 related hospitalizations in the past 30 days and a 142% increase in ICU patients in the same time frame. The previous peak in hospitalizations, in mid-July, topped out around 400 patients.

Of the 4,583 people hospitalized in the county, 19.9% are due to COVID-19, and 41.6% of ICU patients. The agency reported 21,743 tests Wednesday, with 8% testing positive. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 7.4%.

Six new community outbreaks were reported Wednesday: two in businesses, two in daycare/childcare settings, one in a food processing setting and one in a retail setting. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

RELATED STORY: Dr. Wilma Wooten doesn’t know what ICU capacity was in 2019

KUSI’s Hunter Sowards asked if Dr. Wilma Wooten could compare ICU numbers to last year’s numbers at this time.

Dr. Wooten responded saying she doesn’t know. “I don’t have before me right now any data to compare where we were at the same time last year.”

Dr. Wooten avoided giving any numbers on capacity, instead saying our current capacity is “very close” to where we were in the 2017-2018 flu season.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local San Diego News