COVID-19: San Diego reports 3,538 new cases, 53 deaths

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – San Diego County public health officials have reported 3,538 new COVID-19 infections and 53 additional deaths from the virus.

Saturday’s cases mark the 40th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new diagnoses.

Cases have crossed the 2,000 mark in 30 of the past 30 days after Tuesday’s 1,814 broke a 26-day streak. The 3,000-mark has been crossed 14 times since the start of the pandemic while the 4,000-mark has been crossed three times.

ICU capacity in the county is at 15% as 29 more people have been hospitalized with the virus. 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 a 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 188,600 and the death toll at 1,824.

Another eight community outbreaks were reported Saturday. There have been 42 outbreaks in the last seven days, tied to 165 cases.

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.

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