Surge tents return amid uptick in COVID cases in San Diego County

Coronavirus

ENCINITAS, Calif. – To deal with San Diego County’s sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, surge tents are back up at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas for the higher intake of patients.

As of Tuesday, 108 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized across Scripps Health’s five hospitals, the nonprofit health care system reported. That’s up from just 14 patients when the state retired its color-coded reopening system and held a full reopening on June 15.

“We’re seeing winter volume in the summer,” Scripps Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ghazala Sharieff said.

The system’s ICUs were at 78% of capacity on Tuesday, 12% of which are COVID-19 positive patients and the vast majority of those are not vaccinated against the virus.

In an effort to manage the patient intake, officials put the tents back up outside its North County hospital.

“We are putting in additional negative pressure rooms, which are needed for patients with COVID,” Sharieff said. “We are trying to staff up as much as we can. We have a staffing shortage in the area. As of this morning, we only had five intensive care units beds left that were staffed.”

At UC San Diego Health, Dr. Jess Mandel said they’re also seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases. About 30 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized as of Tuesday, and only about 10% of them are vaccinated.

While there’s ample room in the ICU, Mandel said there’s still room for concern.

“It’s not the number that we’re at now that so concerning,” Mandel said. “But really the trajectory, as if where a few weeks ago we had almost no COVID patients in the hospital. The trend is pretty undeniable right now.”

On Tuesday, San Diego County public health officials reported 1,204 new cases, bringing the county’s cumulative pandemic total over 300,000. Five new deaths also were reported. Seventy percent of eligible county residents ages 12 and over are fully vaccinated while 81.1% have received at least one shot, according to the county.

Beating the recent surge of the highly contagious delta variant means high vaccination rates since we have yet to reach herd immunity, Mandel said.

“Clearly we need to get on top of COVID in San Diego,” Mandel said. “And really that means everyone’s vaccinated. It is like night and day to see the types of diseases that present in patients that are vaccinated than those that are not.”

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