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San Diego County Reports 3,493 New COVID-19 Cases, No New Deaths

Medical staff administer COVID-19 swab tests at the drive-through Aquatica Sa...

Photo by Jacob Aere

Above: Medical staff administer COVID-19 swab tests at the drive-through Aquatica San Diego testing location, Dec. 8, 2020.

San Diego County public health officials reported 3,493 COVID-19 infections as of Saturday and no new deaths, bringing the county's total to 126,465 cases and the death toll remaining at 1,280.

Prior to Sunday's report, a record 3,611 COVID-19 infections were reported Friday. The cases surpassed the previous record set one week ago — 2,867 on Friday, Dec. 11 — by 744 new cases.

Saturday's total marks the second time the number of daily infections has surpassed 3,000 as well as the 19th consecutive day with more than 1,000 cases and the 12th day overall with more than 2,000 new cases.

The top four-highest daily cases have all occurred in the past week, with Wednesday's 2,807 cases, Thursday's 2,604, Friday's 3,611 and Saturday's 3,493.

The county on Sunday reported 1,264 hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients and an additional 320 COVID-19 patients in ICUs.

There were seven new outbreaks reported, which brings the total number of outbreaks within the last seven days to 40.

On Friday, an appeals court stayed a judge's decision to halt enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions against San Diego County restaurants, meaning eateries must again abide by the state's regional stay-at-home order, at least for now.

Lawyers for the state filed the emergency challenge to San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel R. Wohlfeil's preliminary injunction, which was issued Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by two San Diego strip clubs Wohlfeil ultimately ruled could remain open.

Wohlfeil's ruling also encompassed all restaurants in the county and all businesses that provide "restaurant service."

Three justices from the Fourth District Court of Appeals, District One, read and considered the order and stayed the injunction "pending further order of this court." The court ordered any oppositions to the state's filing to be submitted by noon Wednesday, according to an appeals court docket.

Lawyers from the state argued that Wohlfeil overreached in his ruling, as no restaurants were parties in the suit initially filed in October by Cheetahs Gentleman's Club and Pacers Showgirls International.

County supervisors met in closed session Friday to appeal the ruling made by Wohlfeil Wednesday.

"The board voted to appeal the order," said County Supervisor Greg Cox. "But the board directed county counsel to only argue that the order is incorrect as it relates to the continued operation of strip clubs and the allowance of indoor dining."

"We support outdoor dining with appropriate safety protocols that have been previously established. We remind everyone that the virus is still out there," Cox said.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher concurred.

"I vehemently disagree with the recent judicial decision allowing strip clubs and all restaurant activities to resume, and I support appealing the entirety of the recent court ruling," he said. "It is a positive step that our board voted unanimously to join the state in the appeal as it relates to strip clubs and indoor dining."

In the San Joaquin Valley, ICU beds are said to also be full. In Greater Sacramento, the estimate is 14.5% of ICU beds available; in the Bay Area, it's 12.8%.

Only Northern California remains outside the Gov. Gavin Newsom- directed stay-at-home order with 21% of ICU beds available. That order applies to regions with fewer than 15% ICU beds remaining.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has now approved a vaccine developed by Moderna to join the 28,275 Pfizer vaccines already in the region available for civilian acute health care workers.

San Diego County is home to 82,623 health care workers toiling in hospital or psychiatric facilities, 39,755 of whom are considered "highest risk" and will first receive vaccines.

The 28,000-plus vaccines will cover about 72% of those slated to be inoculated until more vaccines arrive in California.

Special Feature How much did you pay for COVID-19 treatment?

inewsource and KPBS are partnering up to uncover the cost of COVID-19. We’re looking into the varying medical costs associated with the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

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