In latest grim milestone, county surpasses 2,000 COVID-19 deaths

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO – Marking another grim milestone of the pandemic, San Diego County surpassed 2,000 COVID-19 deaths Thursday with public health officials reporting 53 fatalities and nearly 2,600 new infections.

Thursday’s cases marked the 45th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new diagnoses. More than 3,000 daily infections have reported 17 times, while the 4,000 case mark has been crossed three times.

The county’s cumulative case total rose to 204,175, and the numbers of deaths to 2,005.

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Among the 53 deaths reported Thursday was the death of a 19-year-old man, the county’s youngest COVID-19 victim to-date, according to Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of this teen and to the families and friends of the more than 2,000 San Diegans who have died of COVID-19 throughout the course of this pandemic,” Wooten said in a statement. “We understand that the pandemic has been trying on the community, but today’s report is a reminder that we must do everything we can to protect each other and slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Of the 42,878 tests reported Thursday, 6% returned positive, dropping the 14-day rolling average from 14.2% on Wednesday to 13.6%. The county and its health partners have administered more than 3 million tests since the pandemic began.

COVID-19-related hospitalizations edged down from a record 1,804 on Wednesday to 1,781, with 423 patients in intensive care units, just three shy of Monday’s record 426. A total of 34 staffed ICU beds remain in the county — including both adult and pediatric beds. Only 251 ICU beds are occupied by patients without COVID-19.

Total hospitalizations from all causes increased from 4,659 on Wednesday to 4,806. That number is five above the 80% threshold of occupied beds — beyond which the county is reserving exclusively for COVID-19 patients.

The county has reported a 56% increase in the number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations in the past 30 days and a 42% increase in ICU admittance during that same time frame.

Eight community outbreaks were reported Thursday, bringing the total reported in the past week to 48, tied to 210 cases.

The state of California Wednesday authorized immediate access to COVID-19 vaccines for all residents aged 65 and older, following new guidance from the federal government, but county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher asked San Diegans to temper their expectations for the time being.

There are more than 620,000 people in the county counted in the Tier 1A vaccine distribution cohort. With the 65+ group, health officials are looking at another 500,000, for well over a million people eligible for vaccines. Both vaccines on the market are not effective without two doses.

Fletcher emphasized that for the time being, health care workers would still be prioritized until more vaccine supplies become available.

The county in early February plans to open three more “Vaccination Super Stations” like the one in Downtown San Diego adjacent to Petco Park. Fletcher said the county’s Health & Human Services Agency is working with health partners to expand smaller distribution sites from four to 12.

By the end of June, the HHSA hopes to have 70% of the county’s population over the age of 16 — or 1,882,554 people — vaccinated. Currently it has .04% immunized from COVID-19 and is administering 6,153 vaccines a day.

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