County reports 43 COVID-19 deaths, 2,980 new cases

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – San Diego County public health officials reported 2,980 new COVID-19 cases and 43 additional deaths Saturday as it expanded the category of those eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine to include ages 65 and older.

Dr. Wilma J. Wooten, county public health officer, said Saturday that appointments are still required and vaccinations are available based on supply. These new requirements apply to all sites providing the county vaccine.

More information is at coronavirus-sd.com/vaccine and reservations can be made at vaccinationsuperstationsd.com.

Saturday marked the 54th consecutive day with more than 1,000 cases. It is the 26th time in the past 30 days with more than 2,000 new cases of the virus.

The county’s cumulative case total increased to 225,558 and the death toll is now at 2,344.

The rates of new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations are dropping across California, but health officials warn those trends are tempered by very high death rates. The state reported 593 deaths on Saturday, a day after recording a one-day record of 764.

The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 has slipped below 19,000 statewide, a drop of more than 10% in two weeks. The nearly 23,000 new cases reported Saturday are less than half the mid-December peak of nearly 54,000. In the last week the state averaged about 29,000 new cases per day, more than 6,000 fewer than the prior week.

Over the past 30 days, a 10% increase in the number of hospitalizations has been recorded in San Diego County, with a 21% increase in patients in ICUs, according to the county’s Health and Human Services Agency.

The data showing a decline in cases and overall hospitalizations but an increase in ICU patients and deaths might indicate a tapering down of a major wave of the pandemic.

A median two-week period between infection and first symptoms along with additional time between symptoms and hospitalization, serious symptoms and death could mean these record numbers are from people who were initially infected around the Christmas and New Years Day holidays.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the numbers, but wanted to see a longer downward trend and warned the public not to become complacent.

“Numbers can rapidly turn around and go the other direction,” he said.

Seven community outbreaks were reported Friday, while 46 have been recorded in the past week, tied to 212 cases.

With 181,738 total vaccinations administered, and 29,158 people having received both doses, at least 1% of the county’s population over the age of 16 has been inoculated. Fletcher said the number of vaccines administered is likely much higher, but health providers have been slow to update.

A second “Vaccination Super Station” opened Thursday in Chula Vista. A smaller vaccine site will open this weekend in National City. These are intended to provide relief to the hard-hit South Bay region and its Latino population.

Latinos make up around 34% of the county’s total population but comprise 56.9% of all COVID-19 cases, 54.2% of all hospitalizations from the virus and 44.1% of the deaths.

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