San Diego County reports record 4,550 COVID-19 infections as hospital beds fill

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – San Diego County public health officials have reported a record 4,550 new COVID-19 infections and 33 deaths from the virus as hospitalizations again reached a new record.

After an initial glow of hope when vaccines were approved last month, the nation’s vaccination campaign has gotten off to a slow start.

San Diego County is opening what it calls a “vaccination superstation” that aims to inject up to 5,000 health care workers daily with a COVID-19 vaccine.

The effort that begins Monday is one of the most ambitious yet in California to accelerate the pace of vaccinations that has fallen below expectations amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

President-elect Joe Biden will be taking a new direction to speed the release of coronavirus vaccines when he assumes office Jan. 20. His office said Friday Biden would curtail the current practice of holding back vaccine doses to guarantee that people who get their first shot can also get a required second inoculation three weeks later.

Dr. Abisola Olulade from Sharp Rees-Stealy joined Good Morning to discuss COVID-19.

County health officials attribute the increasing number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths to gatherings over the holidays and the presence of the new coronavirus variant known as B.1.1.7. first detected in the United Kingdom.

The county reported 24 confirmed diagnoses of the more virulent strain of the virus on Tuesday, bringing the county’s confirmed cases of the variant to 28.

The cases were confirmed by whole genome sequencing and the four probable cases are directly linked to the confirmed cases and have positive diagnostic nucleic acid tests, but are not yet sequenced.

There have been no confirmed deaths locally connected to the variant.

Friday’s cases surpass the 4,478 cases reported on Jan. 1 and 4,427 on Jan. 2. They mark the 39th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new diagnoses.

Cases have crossed the 2,000 mark in 29 of the past 30 days after Tuesday’s 1,814 broke a 26-day streak. The 3,000-mark has been crossed 13 times since the start of the pandemic while the 4,000-mark has been crossed three times.

Hospitalizations resulting from the virus rose to a record 1,753 on Friday. Of those, 401 COVID-19 patients are in ICU beds. The number of available, staffed ICU beds in the county is 44, according to the county’s Health and Human Services Agency.

The county has surpassed 80% of its hospital beds occupied, a significant number due to the county reserving the last 20% of its licensed beds exclusively for COVID-19 patients. New patients, according to a plan developed by the county HHSA last year, could be turned away in some cases.

The HHSA reported an 89% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the last 30 days and a 67% increase in ICU admittance in the same period.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Wednesday it’s likely the number of hospitalizations will continue to increase due to the 21-24 day “lag” period between rising cases and rising hospitalizations.

The county’s cumulative cases now number 185,062 and the death toll rose to 1,771. Of 28,952 tests reported Friday, 16% returned positive, increasing the 14-day rolling average to 14.3% from 13.8% Thursday.

Another 10 community outbreaks were reported Friday. There have been 40 outbreaks in the last seven days, tied to 165 cases.

Categories: Coronavirus, Good Morning San Diego, Health, Local San Diego News