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January 2021: Coronavirus Blog Archive

An undated artist rendering of the coronavirus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
An undated artist rendering of the coronavirus.

North County Super Vaccination Station Opens In San Marcos

– 10:16 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021

North County residents are now able to get COVID-19 vaccines closer to home, as San Diego County opened its third Vaccination Super Station Saturday at Cal State San Marcos Sports Center.

"The vaccine offers our pathway out of this, the road to recovery, to restoring, to renewing," Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher said before the first patients with appointments started getting a dose of the vaccine at 9:30 a.m.

Fletcher said the initial goal set in early January was to give 200,000 vaccinations by the end of the month.

"We're now well over 300,000," he said.

The site will be open to the public weekly from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday. Initially, the site is expected to vaccinate 250 to 1,000 people per day, depending on the number of vaccines available, eventually building up to 5,000 or more vaccines daily.

The site is being hosted at CSUSM, with partnership from Palomar Health, UC San Diego Health and Tri-City Medical Center.

Fletcher said an East County Super Station is in the works for this week, but he hasn't named a date or location.

Appointments for this site can be made online at www.VaccinationSuperStationSD.com. Those who arrive for appointments can park at 103 Campus View Drive. There will be free parking on floors two and three of the parking structure. — City News Service

Hospitalizations Continue Descent As County Reports 2,128 New COVID-19 Cases

– 5:12 pm.m, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021

San Diego County public health officials have reported 2,128 new COVID-19 infections and 32 deaths as hospitalizations related to the virus continue to decline.

The county's cumulative COVID-19 case total is now 236,768 and the death toll is 2,603.

The number of people in local hospitals with the virus declined to 1,375 Friday. A record number of patients in intensive care units was set on Jan. 20 with 438, but has declined slowly since. There were 389 COVID-19 patients reported in ICU beds on Friday, with 40 staffed beds available.

Just 6% of the 28,595 tests reported Friday returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average to 9% from Thursday's 9.2%. As recently as Jan. 13, that average was north of 13%.

Five new community outbreaks were reported Friday, part of 57 reported in the past week tied to 246 infections.

The county has received more than 485,900 vaccines and more than 269,000 have been administered. Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said there is a normal lag in reporting these numbers, but 1.6% of the county's population over the age of 16 have been fully vaccinated and demand remains high. — City News Service

Hospitalizations Continue Descent As County Reports 1,670 New COVID-19 Cases

– 7:01 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 1,670 new COVID-19 infections and 37 deaths Friday as hospitalizations related to the virus continue to decline.

Friday was the 60th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new cases, bringing the county's cumulative COVID-19 case total to 234,640 and the death toll to 2,571.

The number of people in local hospitals with the virus declined to 1,391 Friday, down more than 400 patients from Jan. 12's record 1,804. A record number of patients in intensive care units was set on Jan. 20 with 438, but has declined slowly since that date. There were 396 COVID-19 patients reported in ICU beds on Friday, with 40 staffed bed available.

Just 6% of the 28,595 tests reported Friday returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average to 9% from Thursday's 9.2%. As recently as Jan. 13, that average was north of 13%.

Eleven community outbreaks were reported Friday, part of 59 reported in the past week tied to 256 infections. — City News Service

San Diego COVID-19 Vaccination Super Station To Open In North County Sunday

– 6:59 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29, 2021

Starting Saturday afternoon, San Diegans in Phase 1A or those 65 and older can book appointments to get vaccinated for COVID-19 at the new California State University San Marcos super vaccination station.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county is working with multiple health care companies at the location.

“We are sponsoring this site in partnership with the university, along with some staffing support from Tri-City (Medical Center), UC San Diego and Palomar Health,” Fletcher said during a Thursday press conference.

The CSU San Marcos site will start administering shots Sunday morning and plans to eventually give up to 5,000 vaccinations a day. Hours for the location are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

The new clinic will be at the Sports Center and Clarke Field House on the CSU San Marcos campus. The location is a walk-up site, like the super station in Chula Vista. — Jacob Aere, KPBS freelance reporter

'Simple Is Beautiful': One-Shot Vaccine Proves Effective

– 2:53 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29, 2021

The first one-shot COVID-19 vaccine provides good protection against the illness, Johnson & Johnson reported in a key study released Friday, offering the world a potentially important new tool as it races to stay ahead of the rapidly mutating virus.

The pharmaceutical giant's preliminary findings suggest the single-dose option may not be as strong as Pfizer's or Moderna's two-dose formula, and was markedly weaker against a worrisome mutated version of the virus in South Africa.

But amid a rocky start to vaccinations worldwide, that may be an acceptable trade-off to get more people inoculated faster with an easier-to-handle shot that, unlike rival vaccines that must be kept frozen, can last months in the refrigerator.

“Frankly, simple is beautiful,” said Dr. Matt Hepburn, the U.S. government's COVID-19 vaccine response leader.

J&J plans to seek emergency use authorization in the U.S. within a week. It expects to supply 100 million doses to the U.S. by June — and a billion doses globally by year's end — but declined to say how much could be ready if the Food and Drug Administration gives the green light. — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 1,489 COVID-19 Infections, 69 Deaths

– 4:34 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021

Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 continue to decline in the county, even as 1,489 new infections and 69 deaths from the illness were reported by county public health officials Thursday.

A downward trend in COVID-19-positive case rates hit a plateau Thursday. While just 7% of the day's 22,162 tests returned positive, the 14-day rolling average rose to 9.2% from Wednesday's 9%. As recently as Jan. 13, that average was north of 13%.

Thursday was the 59th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new cases, bringing the county's cumulative COVID-19 case total to 232,970 and the death toll to 2,534.

As county leaders have said many times since the beginning of the pandemic, one day does not make a trend, but Thursday's data does put a halt on dropping case rates.

Hospitalizations due to the virus continue to decline, to 1,408 from Wednesday's 1,465, but patients in intensive care beds remain unchanged at 408. There are 44 staffed ICU beds available in the county. — City News Service

San Diego To Begin Enforcing Parking Regulations Friday

– 3:28 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021

Following the California Department of Public Health lifting the regional stay-at-home order on Monday, San Diego will begin enforcing parking regulations again starting Friday, it was announced Thursday.

From Jan. 29 through Feb. 7, the city will issue warning notices. Starting Feb. 8, citations with corresponding fines will be issued to vehicles violating street sweeping parking restrictions, metered parking, time limits and yellow commercial zones.

The city suspended its parking enforcement to coincide with the regional stay-at-home order and curfew initiated by California in December.

"In accordance with the state's decision this week, it's necessary to resume enforcement of parking regulations," Mayor Todd Gloria said. "I continue to strongly urge San Diegans to stay vigilant — wear a mask when you leave your home, avoid gathering with those outside your home and practice physical distancing. Doing so will help us stop the spread of COVID-19."

During the stay-at-home order, citations continued to be issued for vehicles parked illegally at red, white and blue painted curbs. — City News Service

Deaths Remain High, But Rate Of New Virus Infections Falling

– 3:26 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021

California reported its second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, while the rates of new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations continue to drop.

The total of 737 new deaths is second to the record 764 reported Jan. 22, according to the state Department of Public Health.

California’s death toll since the start of the pandemic rose to nearly 39,000, while total cases topped 3.1 million.

Hospitalizations and newly confirmed cases have been falling, however, and health officials are growing more optimistic that the worst of the latest surge is over.

The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 has slipped below 16,250 statewide, a drop of more than 20% in two weeks. — Associated Press

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Continue Steady Decline As 1,415 New Cases Reported

– 5:41 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 1,415 new COVID-19 infections and 44 additional deaths from the virus Wednesday, as many businesses tentatively opened two days after the lifting of a state- imposed stay-at-home order.

A downward trend of positive case rates continued Wednesday as well, with just 9% of the county's reported 16,250 COVID-19 tests returning positive for a 14-day average of 9%. As recently as Jan. 13, that average was north of 13%.

Both hospitalizations and intensive care admissions continued to drop, with 1,465 people hospitalized with the virus in the region — 7% fewer than one month ago and 14% fewer than two weeks ago.

Of those hospitalized with the virus, 408 are in ICU beds. Two weeks ago, there were 1,781 hospitalizations, and a record 438 ICU patients with the virus. Both numbers have been steadily declining since. There are 50 staffed ICU beds available in the county and the proportion of those in the hospital without the virus is increasing. — City News Service

Blue Shield Of California Tapped To Run State Vaccine System

– 5:05 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021

Health insurance giant Blue Shield of California will be the outside administrator tasked with ramping up the state's coronavirus vaccine delivery system, which to date has been slow, stilted and plagued by confusion, the state health agency said in a statement Wednesday.

Another major health care provider, Kaiser Permanente, will also help in the effort to deliver vaccines speedily and equitably across the state of nearly 40 million residents, the agency said. Both are nonprofit companies based in Oakland.

The contract with Blue Shield is still being finalized but its task is to “create, contract with and manage a statewide vaccine administration network" and to allocate doses directly to providers, which will include pharmacies, public and private health networks and hospitals, pop-up sites and community health centers, according to the statement. — Associated Press

San Diego Health Officials Report 1,000-Plus COVID Cases For 57th Consecutive Day

– 7:27 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021

Public-health officials in San Diego County reported 1,434 new COVID-19 cases and 46 deaths from the disease Tuesday, as the county and the rest of Southern California spent their first full day in more than six weeks free of a state-imposed stay-at-home order.

California health officials rescinded the order Monday, citing improving conditions in hospitals, but San Diego County and the other 10 counties in the Southern California region remain subject to the tight regulations of the restrictive "purple" tier of economic reopening guidelines.

Based on the state's action on Monday, San Diego County officials reopened, in an outdoor capacity, restaurant dining, gyms, places of worship, museums, zoos and aquariums, camping and outdoor recreation, bars, breweries and distilleries if they serve food, low-contact youth sports such as cross- country, swimming and diving, golf and track and field, family entertainment centers and movie theaters.

Personal-care services such as barbershops, hair and nail salons and tattoo shops once again can operate indoors, grocery stores can operate at 50% capacity and retail at 25%, and live sports can continue as long as fans aren't in attendance. Amusement parks will remain closed. — City News Service

City Extends Convention Center Shelter Through March

– 4:40 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021

The San Diego City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve Mayor Todd Gloria's proposed extension of the Operation Shelter to Home program at the San Diego Convention Center through March.

Operation Shelter to Home launched on April 1 by moving individuals already in shelters into the convention center to allow for proper physical distancing to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Because the effects of the pandemic were creating staffing challenges at the city's various shelters, the program centralized staff in one place to ensure personnel could be efficient even with limited numbers.

Since the program began, it has served more than 3,800 people and connected 1,186 individuals and 43 families to long-term housing. Another 217 San Diegans are "in progress" to find housing through the program. According to city documents, Operation Shelter to Home costs around $5 million each month. The three-month extension is expected to cost the city $15.1 million.

Gloria's plan includes using funds previously allocated to shelter operations that remained unspent, as well as other funds the City Council had previously approved for homelessness programs, totaling roughly $8.3 million. — City News Service

US Surging Vaccine To States Amid Complaints Of Shortages

– 3:11 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021

President Joe Biden says the U.S. is surging vaccine deliveries to hard-pressed states over the next three weeks and expects to provide enough doses to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer or early fall.

Biden is calling the push a “wartime effort." He said Tuesday that his administration is working to buy an additional 100 million doses of each of the two approved coronavirus vaccines.

And he acknowledged that states in recent weeks have been left guessing how many vaccines they will have from one week to the next. He called that “unacceptable” and said "lives are at stake.” — Associated Press

Council Extends Eviction Moratorium For Tenants, Small Businesses

– 2:11 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021

The San Diego City Council extended an eviction moratorium for renters and small businesses today to assist residents during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The pair of ordinances to extend the existing moratorium — one for renters and one for commercial tenants — were proposed by Mayor Todd Gloria last week with the intent to protect public health and speed the city's economic recovery.

Under the local ordinances, qualifying tenants cannot be evicted for unpaid rent due to financial hardship related to the pandemic accrued during the period starting Monday and ending 60 days after the city's COVID-19 emergency declaration ends. For residential tenants, any unpaid rent that accumulates during this period and is not repaid will be converted to consumer debt.

"Getting through this pandemic, financially and emotionally, is hard enough for residents and small businesses. The last thing they need to worry about is being evicted," Gloria said after the vote. "I thank the City Council for partnering with me to ensure that San Diegans won't lose their home or their storefront because they couldn't make the rent due to COVID-19. We will get through this together, and we will build back better."

The eviction ban for residential tenants will remain in effect until 60 days after the emergency declaration is lifted. The protections for commercial tenants will remain in effect through the same time period or through June 30, whichever comes first. The city's emergency declaration will be lifted after California's emergency declaration ends.– City News Service

California Gives State More Control Over Vaccine Delivery

– 12:33 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021

Facing widespread criticism for its slow vaccine rollout, California is revamping its delivery system mid-stride by centralizing its hodgepodge of county systems and streamlining appointment sign-up, notification, and eligibility for its 40 million residents.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday named Yolanda Richardson as secretary of the government operations agency that will spearhead operations and delivery, the state announced in advance of a noon news briefing. Richardson will work with private third party administrators, as yet unnamed, to decide where the state’s supply of vaccine should go as the federal supply ramps up to meet demand.

The change means counties and hospital networks — which have been scheduling appointments and determining eligibility under broad state guidance — will move at a more uniform pace. Residents have been baffled by the varying systems as some counties will vaccinate people 65 and older while others are limited to the more restrictive 75 and up.

“Our state and county public health leaders have done the important groundwork to get California’s vaccination plan up and running and we are grateful to them and will continue to partner with them,” said Newsom. “We have learned that to accelerate pace we need to dial up the scale of our efforts to ensure vaccine supply goes into arms as quickly as it arrives in the state.”

California has been dinged for vaccinating so few people even amid a national vaccine shortage that appears to be the main limiting factor. It has administered more than 2.4 million of 4.5 million doses shipped. – Associated Press

San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park To Reopen Saturday

– 5:41 p.m., Monday, Jan. 25, 2021

The San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park will reopen to the public on Saturday, Jan. 30, following the state’s lifting of regional stay-at-home orders. This ends an almost two-month-long closure at the amusement parks.

Despite lifting of stay-at-home orders, counties — including San Diego — will still be subject to the tight regulations of the restrictive "purple" tier of economic reopening guidelines.

Both San Diego Zoo and Safari Park will operate with COVID-19 precautions in place, officials said in a statement. Some of these include: outdoor dining only, retail shop capacity capped at 25%, reduced visitors on-site, one-way path modifications, and required face coverings for all guests.

A reservation system will be in place — all visitors aged 3 and up are required to have a ticket or membership and a reservation to enter the park. Guest tickets serve as a reservation.

Some features will be unavailable: the Zoo’s Guided Bus Tour, Kangaroo Bus and Skyfari Aerial Tram and the Safari Park’s Africa Tram along with some shows, tours and safari experiences. – Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

State Establishes COVID Vaccine Notification Website In Los Angeles, San Diego Counties

– 2:20 p.m., Monday, Jan. 25, 2021

Hoping to answer the most pressing question residents have regarding the COVID-19 vaccine — when can they get it —the state Monday rolled out a pilot website on which people can sign up to receive alerts on when they're eligible and then schedule an appointment.

The MyTurn system is operating on a trial basis for residents in Los Angeles and San Diego counties, with Gov. Gavin Newsom saying the system will hopefully be available statewide by early February.

The website, at MyTurn.ca.gov, allows people to input their basic information and learn if they are currently available to receive a vaccination and, if so, allow them to scheduled a shot. People who aren't yet eligible can provide information on age and occupation and register to receive an email or text alert about when they will be able to schedule a shot. – City News Service

Rainstorm Closes Petco Park ‘Vaccination Super Station’ On Monday

– 12:26 p.m., Monday, Jan. 25, 2021

A winter storm prompted the closure of the San Diego County-run “Vaccination Super Station” at Petco Park on Monday and through Tuesday, officials announced.

Officials will determine Tuesday morning if the closure needs to be extended.

Those with vaccination appointments Monday will be rescheduled for Thursday at a newly scheduled time. Officials recommend those with scheduled time slots to check their MyChart account for details on new appointment times.

While the county’s vaccination sites in National City and Chula Vista remain open, appointments at the Petco Park station won’t transfer to other vaccination sites. – Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

California Lifts Virus Stay-At-Home Orders, Curfew Statewide

– 11:54 a.m., Monday, Jan. 25, 2021

California lifted regional stay-at-home orders across the state Monday in response to improving coronavirus conditions, returning the state to a system of county-by-county restrictions.

The order had been in place in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, covering the majority of the state's counties.

The change allows restaurants and churches to resume outdoor operations and hair and nail salons to reopen in many areas, though local officials could choose to impose stricter rules. The state is also lifting a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

“Together, we changed our activities knowing our short-term sacrifices would lead to longer-term gains. COVID-19 is still here and still deadly, so our work is not over, but it’s important to recognize our collective actions saved lives and we are turning a critical corner," Dr. Tomas Aragon, the state's public health director, said in a statement. — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 31 COVID-19 Deaths, 1,637 New Cases Of Virus

– 5:06 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 1,637 new COVID-19 cases and 31 additional deaths Sunday — the 55th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new cases.

The county's cumulative case total increased to 227,195 and the death toll is now at 2,375.

There were 57 more COVID-19 patients reported hospitalized in the county Sunday, with four more San Diegans moved into intensive care.

Over the past 30 days, a 10% increase in the number of hospitalizations has been recorded, 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. — City News Service

County Reports 43 COVID-19 Deaths, 2,980 New Cases Of Virus

– 9:03 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021

San Diego County public health officials have reported 2,980 new COVID-19 cases and 43 additional deaths while expanding eligibility to receive the coronavirus vaccine to those 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.

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.

Over the past 30 days, just a 10% increase in the number of hospitalizations has been recorded, 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. — City News Service

County Expands Coronavirus Vaccinations To Those 65-Plus

– 4:36 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021

The county of San Diego expanded the category of those eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccination to include those ages 65 and older Saturday.

Appointments are still required and vaccinations are available based on supply, she said. 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

Only health care workers and those 65 and older can visit vaccination sites, Wooten said. They are encouraged to first contact their doctor or health care provider to request the vaccine, but if none is available, they should make an appointment for a county site.

Appointments are required; walk-ups and drive-ups without appointments will be turned away. — City News Service

County Reports Record 79 COVID-19 Deaths, 2,847 New Cases of Virus

– 5:16 p.m., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021

A record 79 COVID-19 deaths were reported by San Diego County public health officials Friday, along with 2,847 new COVID-19 cases and 437 positive intensive care patients.

The previous record of 65 deaths was set on Wednesday, with 62 on New Years Eve the third-highest death toll.

Friday marked the 53rd consecutive day with more than 1,000 cases. It is the 25th time in the past 30 days with more than 2,000 new cases of the virus and snaps a two-day streak of fewer than 2,000 cases. Despite more cases than Thursday, Friday's data continues a slight downward trend in the percentage of tests returning positive. A total 0f 49,562 tests were reported Monday and just 6% returned positive, bringing the county's 14-day rolling average from 12% on Thursday down to 10.7% Friday.

The county's cumulative case total increased to 222,578 and the death toll is now at 2,301.

Additionally, overall hospitalizations from the pandemic decreased to 1,618 while the number of patients in ICU beds is just one shy of a record 438 set Thursday.

A record 1,804 hospitalized patients was set Jan. 12. A total of 36 staffed ICU beds remain in the county. — City News Service

County Reports 1,176 New COVID-19 Cases, 48 Deaths; ICU Patients Hit Record

– 4:36 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021

Deaths from COVID-19 remain high in San Diego County, even as health officials reported the fewest new cases in more than a month, with just 1,176 positive cases reported Thursday.

The 48 deaths reported Thursday follow a record 65 deaths from the pandemic on Wednesday. The county's cumulative case total increased to 219,731 and the number of deaths to 2,222.

Thursday marked the 52nd consecutive day with more than 1,000 cases. It is just the fifth time in the last past 30 days with fewer than 2,000 new cases of the virus.

Additionally, overall hospitalizations from the pandemic decreased to 1,656 while the number of patients in intensive care units set another record with 438. A record 1,804 hospitalized patients was set Jan. 12. A total of 46 staffed ICU beds remain in the county.

What declining cases and overall hospitalizations might mean while ICU patients and deaths continue to increase is a likely 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. — City News Service

California Found 'No Scientific Basis' To Continue Pause On Moderna Vaccine

– 9 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

California says it’s safe to resume using a batch of coronavirus vaccine after some people fell ill and a halt to injections was recommended.

Wednesday’s decision frees up more than 300,000 doses to counties, cities and hospitals struggling to obtain supplies.

The state Department of Public Health on Sunday urged a pause in using a specific lot of the Moderna vaccine. That came after fewer than 10 people had possible allergic reactions after receiving shots at a San Diego vaccination site.

But the state’s epidemiologist says a safety review found “no scientific basis to continue the pause” and shots can resume immediately. — Associated Press

San Diego Reports Record COVID-19 Deaths Since New Year's Eve

– 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care units in San Diego County set a record Wednesday, according to public health officials, who also reported 1,720 new COVID-19 cases and a record 65 additional deaths.

The reported deaths surpassed the previous record of 62 deaths reported on Dec. 31, 2020.

The number of hospitalizations overall related to COVID-19 decreased to 1,706, the lowest number in two weeks, after setting a record of 1,804 hospitalized patients on Jan. 12.

Conversely, the number of coronavirus patients in ICUs reached a record 430 on Wednesday, while another 242 patients are in ICUs for other reasons. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 2,498 New COVID-19 Cases As Hospitalizations Decrease

– 5:59 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 2,498 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths Tuesday as hospitalizations continue a slow decline.

Tuesday marked the 50th consecutive day with more than 1,000 cases and the 27th time in the past 30 days with more than 2,000 new cases of the virus. Of the 12,675 tests reported Tuesday, 20% returned positive, raising the 14-day rolling average from 11.8% on Monday to 12.1%.

The number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 has decreased from a high of 1,804 reported one week ago to 1,721 on Tuesday. Of those patients, 419 are in intensive care units. A total of 38 staffed ICU beds are available throughout the county.

The county's cumulative case total increased to 216,835 and the number of deaths to 2,109, including three women and three men who died between Dec. 28 and Jan. 9.

Of the six new deaths reported, five were of people 80 years or older and the other was in their 70s. All had underlying medical conditions. — City News Service

San Diego City And County Join National COVID-19 Memorial Event Tuesday Evening

– 2:47 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021

The city and county of San Diego will join communities around the country Tuesday evening by illuminating several historic buildings in an amber light to honor the nearly 400,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19.

President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration committee is leading a nationwide memorial to remember and honor lives lost to the virus. On Tuesday evening, there will be a special light show at the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool in Washington, D.C. Cities and towns throughout the country have been invited to join by illuminating buildings and ringing church bells in a national moment of unity and remembrance.

At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Mayor Todd Gloria will join the memorial by lighting multiple buildings in Balboa Park in amber light, including the California Tower, San Diego Museum of Art Museum, and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in amber light. Additionally, the San Diego Convention Center will be illuminated in amber.

"More than 2,000 San Diego County residents have lost their lives to the coronavirus," Gloria said. "It's important the city of San Diego stands with President-elect Biden and communities throughout the United States in this somber occasion and memorialize their deaths. This will serve as a declaration that we must continue to take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 and not allow more preventable deaths."

The Museum of Us, House of Hospitality, Mingei International Museum, Casa de Balboa and other locations in Balboa Park will be illuminated in red, white and blue.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced Tuesday the County Administration Center will be bathed in amber light Tuesday evening.

Fletcher held a COVID-19 Altar De Muertos last year to honor those who have died from the pandemic. — City News Service

Scripps Health To Start Vaccinating Patients 65 And Older At Appointment-Only Clinics

– 5:38 p.m., Monday, Jan. 18, 2021

Scripps Health announced Monday it will start giving patients 65 and older COVID-19 vaccines at appointment-only clinics starting Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Scripps said they will start by using any vaccines left over from its inoculation of health care workers. Scripps has not yet received any COVID-19 vaccine doses from the government to use for the 65-and-older population.

“Scripps is committed to doing everything we can to protect our community during these unprecedented times, and these clinics for our older patients will be an important first step,” said Ghazala Sharieff, M.D., MBA, Scripps Health chief medical officer for acute care, clinical excellence and experience. “We know this will be just a drop in the bucket compared to the demand, but every drop will make a difference. We’re asking for everyone’s understanding. Please rest assured we will let you know as soon as more vaccines are available.”

Eligible patients will receive their vaccine appointment invitation through their MyScripps account, Scripps’ online portal for patients to manage their health care. If you are a Scripps patient and don’t yet have an account, you can create one by visiting www.scripps.org/myscripps.

Scripps said that appointments are being offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Walk-ins are not being accepted.

– KPBS Staff

San Diego County Reports 2,550 New COVID-19 Cases, No New Deaths

– 4:29 p.m., Monday, Jan. 18, 2021

Public health officials Monday reported 2,550 new COVID-19 cases in San Diego County and expanded the category of those eligible to receive a vaccine to those aged 75 and older.

"We took this action today to add individuals 75 years of age and older because they are at the greatest risk," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, who cited a slowing of appointments at COVID-19 vaccination sites as one of the reasons for the move.

"It remains our intention to expand vaccines to those 65 and older the week of January 25, contingent of vaccine availability," she said.

The new requirements apply to the Petco Park Vaccination Super Station and other county distribution sites. Previously, due to a shortage of vaccines, the county had authorized only healthcare workers to receive the vaccines, despite federal guidance allowing for those 65 and older to receive them.

There are more than 620,000 people in San Diego County that belong in the Tier 1A vaccine distribution group. With the 65-and-older group, health officials are looking at another 500,000, for well over 1 million people eligible for vaccines.

Both available vaccines are not effective without two doses. – City News Service

San Diego County Expands COVID-19 Vaccination Availability For People 75 And Up

– 12:00 p.m., Monday, Jan. 18, 2021

San Diego County has expanded its COVID-19 vaccination availability to seniors ages 75 and up.

The county says it’s due to a slowing of appointments at vaccination sites, so they expanded the category of those eligible to include those aged 75 and up.

Vaccines were previously only available to health care providers as well as both long-term care employees and residents in Phase 1A (Tiers 1,2 & 3).

Next in line are people 65 and older.

“We took this action today to add individuals 75 years of age and older because they are at the greatest risk,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “It remains our intention to expand vaccines to those 65 and older the week of January 25, contingent of vaccine availability.”

The county adds the new requirements apply to the Petco Park Vaccination Super Station and other San Diego County COVID-19 vaccine sites.

More information can be found here and reservations can be made here.

– KPBS Staff

Allergic Reactions To COVID Shot At Petco Park Prompts State Action

–10:00 a.m., Monday, Jan. 18, 2021

With the supply of COVID-19 vaccines already a concern as inoculation efforts intensify, the state is warning providers Monday to stop administering a particular batch of the Moderna vaccine due to an unusually high number of people who experienced allergic reactions to the shot at a San Diego clinic.

"A higher-than-usual number of possible allergic reactions were reported with a specific lot of Moderna vaccine administered at one community vaccination clinic," state Epidemiologist Dr. Erica S. Pan said in a statement late Sunday. "Fewer than 10 individuals required medical attention over the span of 24 hours. Out of an extreme abundance of caution and also recognizing the extremely limited supply of vaccine, we are recommending that providers use other available vaccine inventory and pause the administration of vaccines from Moderna Lot 041L20A until the investigation by the CDC, FDA, Moderna and the state is complete. We will provide an update as we learn more."

San Diego County health officials confirmed last week that a half- dozen health care workers who were inoculated at the vaccination center at Petco Park had suffered allergic reactions. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 1,890 COVID-19 Cases, 38 Deaths, 12 New Outbreaks

–10:00 a.m., Monday, Jan. 18, 2021

San Diego County public health officials have reported 1,890 new COVID-19 infections and 38 virus-related fatalities.

Sunday's cases marked the 48th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new diagnoses. More than 3,000 daily infections have been reported 18 times, while the 4,000-case mark has been crossed three times.

The county's cumulative case total rose to 211,787, and the number of deaths to 2,103.

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.

The number of hospitalizations rose 104 on Sunday and the number of intensive care admissions increased by three.

Twelve new community outbreaks were confirmed on Saturday.

In the past seven days, 49 community outbreaks were confirmed, tied to 199 cases. The total number of community outbreaks reached 1,050. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 3,027 COVID-19 Cases, 28 Deaths

–4:28 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021

San Diego County public health officials have reported 3,027 new COVID-19 infections and 28 virus-related fatalities.

Saturday's cases marked the 47th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new diagnoses. More than 3,000 daily infections have been reported 18 times, while the 4,000-case mark has been crossed three times.

The county's cumulative case total rose to 209,897, and the number of deaths to 2,065.

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.

The number of hospitalizations rose 149 on Saturday and the number of intensive care admissions increased by six.

Seven new community outbreaks were confirmed on Friday — two in business settings, two in health care settings, one in a hotel/resort/spa setting, one in a faith-based setting and one in a retail setting.

In the past seven days, 44 community outbreaks were confirmed, tied to 184 cases. The total number of community outbreaks reached 1,038. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 2,695 COVID-19 Cases, 32 Deaths

– 6:11 p.m., Friday, Jan. 15, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 2,695 new COVID-19 infections and 32 virus-related fatalities Friday, with cases beginning a downward trend.

Friday's cases marked the 46th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new diagnoses. More than 3,000 daily infections have been reported 17 times, while the 4,000 case mark has been crossed three times.

For the second consecutive day, fewer than 2,000 cases were reported in the county, the first time that has happened since Dec. 28-29.

The county's cumulative case total rose to 206,870, and the numbers of deaths to 2,037. Of the 32 new deaths reported, 30 had underlying medical conditions and one did not. The medical history is pending for one person.

The deaths occurred between Jan. 5 and Thursday. Sixteen of the deaths were among people 80 years or older, seven were in their 70s, four in their 60s, one in their 50s, three in their 40s and one in their 30s. There were 16 men who died and 16 women.

Of the 30,851 tests reported Friday, 9% returned positive, dropping the 14-day rolling average from 13.6% on Thursday to 13.2%. The San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency and its partners have administered more than 3.1 million tests since the pandemic began. — City News Service

245 UCSD Students Have Tested Positive For COVID-19 Since Winter Quarter Began

– 12:04 p.m., Friday, Jan. 15, 2021

UC San Diego reported that 245 of its students have tested positive for COVID-19 since the winter quarter began on Jan. 4.

Of the 245 positive cases, 109 live at UCSD and the other 136 students live off campus in the San Diego area, according to university data. Sixty- one employees have also tested positive for the virus.

The university has recorded 92 cases among students returning after winter break, 14 cases among students who remained in on-campus housing and 4 cases among students who live off-campus.

Since the start of the year, positive COVID-19 cases have been associated with more than 20 residence halls, the main student union, the Telemedicine Building, Biological Research Facility II, dining halls, the school's new Target store, the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine and the Nimitz Marine Facility in San Diego Bay, according to the university.

About 7,300 students currently live on campus, with just 2% of class sections held in person during the winter quarter. — City News Service

19-Year-Old Latest COVID-19 Death As County Reports 2,000-Plus Lives Lost

– 6:48 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 2,595 new COVID-19 infections and 53 virus-related fatalities Thursday, as the county's death toll officially crossed the 2,000 mark.

The deaths reported include a 19-year-old male, the youngest San Diegan to die from complications of COVID-19.

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.

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. — City News Service

UC San Diego Starting To Vaccinate Seniors, Other Health Systems Are Waiting

– 6:46 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021

UC San Diego Health on Thursday was moving forward with vaccinations for some patients 65 and older after getting the proper clearance.

In an emailed statement, UCSD said up to 500 seniors could be vaccinated per day.

"Per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, UC San Diego Health has expanded into Phase 1B-Tier 1 for vaccinating its patients who are age 65 and older," the statement read.

"Eligible patients will receive a direct invitation to be vaccinated through their electronic medical record or a direct call from their health care provider. Due to limited supplies of vaccines, first priority will go to patients who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 infection and who have comorbid health conditions."

For local health care systems, the number of doses they can offer to seniors depends on how many they have.

"The only vaccine we've been given is for the health care provider, and we just started about a week ago the second dose of the vaccine for health care providers," Scripps Health CEO Chris Van Gorder said.

Scripps is ready to scale up in a big way, he said.

"If the government really wanted to speed up the process just get us the vaccine," Van Gorder said. — Matt Hoffman, KPBS General Assignment Reporter

San Diego Crosses 200,000 COVID-19 Case Mark

– 5:45 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 3,261 new COVID-19 infections and 54 deaths from the virus Wednesday as the county officially crossed the 200,000 total case mark and neared 2,000 deaths from the virus since the pandemic began.

Wednesday's cases marked the 44th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new diagnoses. It was also the 17th time that 3,000-plus daily infections have been announced. More than 4,000 cases have been reported three times.

The county's cumulative totals are now 201,580 cases and 1,952 deaths.

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.

"There is no higher priority than efficiently and equitably distributing these vaccines as quickly as possible to those who face the gravest consequences," Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement announcing the change. "Individuals 65 and older are now the next group eligible to start receiving vaccines. To those not yet eligible for vaccines, your turn is coming. We are doing everything we can to bring more vaccine into the state."

However, San Diego 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. — City News Service

California Opens Scarce Vaccines To Those 65 And Older

— 12:15 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021

California is immediately allowing residents 65 and older to get scarce coronavirus vaccines.

Gov. Gavin Newsom's announcement Wednesday puts seniors in line before emergency workers, teachers, childcare providers and food and agriculture workers even as counties complain they already don’t have enough doses to go around.

While health care workers and those in nursing homes and other congregate living facilities can still be vaccinated, state officials are expanding to those 65 and up because they are at the greatest risk of being hospitalized and dying.

California has seen virus cases and hospitalizations explode since Thanksgiving, though in recent days the numbers have flattened. — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 3,524 New COVID-19 Infections, 41 Deaths

– 6:14 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 3,524 new COVID-19 infections and 41 deaths from the virus Tuesday, as the county nears 200,000 total cases since the pandemic began.

Tuesday's cases mark the 43rd consecutive day with more than 1,000 new diagnoses. It is also the 16th time 3,000-plus daily infections have been announced. More than 4,000 cases have been reported three times.

Of the 18,119 tests reported Tuesday, 19% returned positive, raising the 14-day rolling average to 13.8% from Monday's 13.6%. The county and its health partners have administered more than 3 million tests since the pandemic began.

The county's cumulative case count rose to 198,319, while the death toll increased to 1,898.

RELATED: Community Health Workers Get Vaccinated To Be Allies During Public Rollout

Hospitalizations resulting from the virus rose by 29 to a record 1,772, while the intensive care unit saw no new admissions and the occupied bed count dropped from a record 426 Monday to the second-highest total of 418 on Tuesday. A total of 33 staffed ICU beds remain in the county. Only 219 ICU beds are occupied by patients without COVID-19. — City News Service

Traveling Overseas? You'll Need A Negative COVID Test To Return To US

– 4:27 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021

San Diego residents planning to ignore health warnings and travel overseas will soon have to obtain a negative COVID-19 test before being allowed to return to U.S. soil, as will any foreign visitors to the country, under a new federal rule released Tuesday.

The regulation announced by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires anyone traveling to the United States to have a negative COVID-19 test within three days of the flight. Passengers must provide the airline with written documentation of the test before they will be allowed to board the flight.

If a passenger fails to provide such documentation, "the airline must deny boarding to the passenger," according to the CDC.

The requirement will take effect Jan. 26. — City News Service

Supervisors OK More Resources For COVID-19 Compliance, Enforcement

– 1:16 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021

The county Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved several COVID-19 measures, including stepped-up enforcement of businesses not complying with restrictions, and a fair and consistent application of policies based on scientific data.

Supervisors voted 4-1, with Jim Desmond opposed. The compliance measures cover inspections responsive to complaints, proactive inspections, and citations for those violating the Safe Reopening Plan.

Based on a proposal from Supervisor Nora Vargas, where legally possible, businesses not in compliance with public health orders will not be eligible to receive county relief funding.

The board also voted in favor of continuing the county's Great Plates program, which provides thousands of meals to senior citizens on a weekly basis.

Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher said the county is "increasing resources and reaffirming our commitment to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in San Diego County, by expanding the scope and commitment of enforcement by our compliance team. Taking these actions will protect lives and help in the regional effort to beat COVID-19."

Desmond said he supported other staff recommendations and Great Plates — but not increased enforcement on businesses, some of which have claimed being discriminated against.

"I believe all businesses should be able to operate safely," Desmond said. "If you treat people like adults, they'll act like it." – City News Service

Japan Airlines To Resume Nonstop Flights Between SAN And Tokyo In March

– 1:14 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021

Japan Airlines announced Tuesday it will resume nonstop flights between Tokyo, via Narita International Airport, and San Diego International Airport beginning in early March.

Japan Airlines — which suspended service last April due to the COVID- 19 pandemic — will operate three flights a week, with the first arrival into San Diego on March 2 and the first departure from San Diego on March 3.

"Japan Airlines provides the greater San Diego area with an important nonstop link to Asia," said Kimberly Becker, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority's president and CEO.

"By providing Japan with direct access to our region, San Diego is more competitive and attractive to those individuals looking to vacation or conduct business in Southern California, which is critical to rebuilding our economy post-COVID-19," she said. "We look forward to welcoming travelers from Asia once again and thank Japan Airlines for resuming this important service."

The announcement comes as San Diego County is reporting record case numbers, deaths and hospitalizations from the virus — far more than were present regionally last April. San Diego County remains under a state stay-at- home order. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 2,907 New COVID-19 Infections

– 8:22 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021

Public health officials in San Diego County reported 2,907 new COVID-19 infections Monday, making the 42nd consecutive day with more than 1,000 new diagnoses.

The county's cumulative case count now stands at 194,795. No new fatalities from the disease were reported, leaving the death toll at 1,857.

In the county's daily updates of coronavirus statistics, the 3,000- infection mark has been crossed 15 times since the start of the pandemic, and the 4,000 mark three times.

Hospitalizations resulting from the virus rose another 46 to 6,284 on Monday. There were two new intensive-care admissions, bringing the total to 1,273.

The county has surpassed 80% of its hospital bed occupancy, 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 Health & Human Services Agency last year, could be turned away in some cases. – City News Service

San Diego Zoo Gorillas Test Positive For COVID-19

– 12:23 p.m., Monday, Jan. 11, 2021

A gorilla troop at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park tested positive for COVID-19, the zoo announced Monday.

Caretakers noticed two gorillas began coughing on Jan. 6 and tested fecal samples of the gorillas for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. On Jan. 11, positive COVID-19 results were confirmed. These results confirm the presence of the virus in some of the gorillas in the troop but don't rule out the presence of the virus in other members, the zoo said in a statement.

It is suspected the gorillas contracted the virus from an asymptomatic staff member. Studies have indicated some non-human primates are susceptible to COVID-19, but this is the first known instance of natural transmission to great apes, San Diego Zoo said. It is unknown if they will have any serious reaction.

“Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well,” said Lisa Peterson, executive director, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “The troop remains quarantined together and are eating and drinking. We are hopeful for a full recovery.”

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has been closed to the public since December 6. – Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

UCSD To Help County Deliver 5,000 COVID-19 Vaccinations Per Day

– 7:40 a.m., Monday, Jan. 11, 2021

UC San Diego Health, San Diego County and the Padres are teaming up to vaccinate at least 5,000 healthcare workers per day against the novel coronavirus, starting Monday.

Those partners, along with the City of San Diego, will run the "Vaccination Super Station" near Petco Park in an effort to safely vaccinate the 500,000 healthcare workers in the region eligible for Phase 1A-Tier categories on California's vaccine priority list.

"The Vaccination Super Station increases our ability as a county to administer the vaccine to healthcare workers," said San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher.

"Opening this supersized vaccination site will be an important milestone in the state of California's COVID recovery when it opens on Monday. With UC San Diego Health assisting this new regional partnership, we will get vaccines into the arms of healthcare workers much faster," he said.

The decision to begin a large-scale vaccination site was made Thursday and comes as hospitals throughout the county are bracing for a post-New Year's Eve surge in infections that will challenge the region's ability to care for COVID patients. – City News Service

Second Round Of Oceanside Business Grants Opens To Business Owners

– 7:40 a.m., Monday, Jan. 11, 2021

The second round of Oceanside Small Business Grants will open to business owners at 8 a.m. Monday as part of an effort by the Oceanside City Council to keep small businesses afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, the council approved a grant program to provide financial assistance to local businesses impacted by COVID-19. The program is funded with $750,000 in unused funds from the COVID-19 business loan program that began in April 2020.

This second round of grants builds on the initial grant program where 130 local businesses were awarded $257,000, along with a no-to-low interest business loan program, a shop local campaign, relaxed business regulations and a utility relief program.

Grants ranging from $1,000 to $7,500 will be awarded on a first come, first served basis. A tiered system that considers the business type and financial impact of COVID-19 will be used to determine grant amounts. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 3,288 COVID-19 Infections, 33 New Deaths

– 7:40 a.m., Monday, Jan. 11, 2021

San Diego County public health officials have reported 3,288 new COVID-19 infections and 33 additional deaths from the virus.

The county's cumulative cases now number 191,888 and the death toll stands at 1,857.

Sunday's reported cases mark the 41st consecutive day with more than 1,000 new diagnoses.

Cases have crossed the 2,000 mark in 31 of the past 30 days after Tuesday's 1,814 broke a 26-day streak. The 3,000-mark has been crossed 15 times since the start of the pandemic while the 4,000-mark has been crossed three times.

Hospitalizations resulting from the virus rose another 32 to a total of 6,238 on Sunday. There were four new intensive care admissions, bringing the total to 1,271.

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. – City News Service

California Closes In On 30,000 Deaths During Pandemic

– 1:51 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021

California is closing in on 30,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic as hospitals scramble to find beds for severely ill patients during a continuing spike in COVID-19 case numbers.

The state reported 468 deaths on Sunday, a day after setting a record one-day total of 695, according to the Department of Public Health. California’s death toll since the start of the pandemic rose to 29,701.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations are nearly 22,000, and state models project that number could reach 30,000 by Feb 1.

A surge of cases following Halloween and Thanksgiving produced record hospitalizations in California, and now the most seriously ill of those patients are dying in unprecedented numbers. Officials fear another surge in coming days connected to gatherings during Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations.

Already, many hospitals in Los Angeles and other hard-hit areas are struggling to keep up and warn they may need to ration care as intensive care beds dwindle. – Associated Press

SD County Reports 3,538 COVID-19 Infections And 53 New Deaths

– 5:47 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021

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

Saturday's reported 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.

Hospitalizations resulting from the virus rose 29 to 6,206 total on Saturday.

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.

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. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports Record 4,550 COVID-19 Infections As Hospital Beds Fill

– 7:11 p.m., Friday, Jan. 8, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported a record 4,550 new COVID-19 infections Friday along with 33 deaths from the virus as hospitalizations again reached a new record.

Friday's cases surpass the 4,478 cases reported last Friday and 4,427 on Saturday. They mark the 39th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new diagnoses.

Cases have crossed the 2,000 mark in 29 of the past 30 days after Tuesday's 1,814 broke a 26-day streak. The 3,000-mark has been crossed 13 times since the start of the pandemic while the 4,000-mark has been crossed three times.

Hospitalizations resulting from the virus rose to a record 1,753 on Friday. Of those, 401 COVID-19 patients are in ICU beds. The number of available, staffed ICU beds in the county is 44, according to the county's Health and Human Services Agency. – City News Service

UCSD To Help County Deliver 5,000 COVID-19 Vaccinations Per Day

– 2:51 p.m., Friday, Jan. 8, 2021

UC San Diego Health, San Diego County and the Padres are teaming up to vaccinate at least 5,000 healthcare workers per day against the novel coronavirus, starting Monday.

Those partners, along with the City of San Diego, will run the "Vaccination Super Station" near Petco Park in an effort to safely vaccinate the 500,000 healthcare workers in the region eligible for Phase 1A-Tier categories on California's vaccine priority list.

"The Vaccination Super Station increases our ability as a county to administer the vaccine to healthcare workers," said San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher.

"Opening this supersized vaccination site will be an important milestone in the state of California's COVID recovery when it opens on Monday. With UC San Diego Health assisting this new regional partnership, we will get vaccines into the arms of healthcare workers much faster," he said.

The decision to begin a large-scale vaccination site was made Thursday and comes as hospitals throughout the county are bracing for a post-New Year's Eve surge in infections that will challenge the region's ability to care for COVID patients.

The county previously established four point-of-dispensing sites across the region that were administering hundreds of vaccines to healthcare workers daily, and those sites will continue to operate.

Starting Monday, the Super Station will be operating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week for healthcare workers. Vaccines will only be administered to healthcare workers who have made an appointment online. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 3,850 New COVID-19 Infections, Record Hospitalizations

– 9:12 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 3,850 new COVID-19 infections and 47 deaths Thursday as hospitalizations and intensive care admittance numbers again set records.

Thursday's cases mark the third third-highest number of infections reported in a single day, behind the record 4,478 cases reported last Friday, 4,427 on Saturday, and the 38th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new diagnoses.

Cases have crossed the 2,000 mark in 28 of the past 29 days after Tuesday's 1,814 broke a 26-day streak. The 3,000 mark has been crossed 12 times since the start of the pandemic.

Hospitalizations resulting from the virus rose to a record 1,734 on Thursday. Of those, 395 COVID-19 patients are in ICU beds. The number of available, staffed ICU beds in the county is 40, according to the county's Health and Human Services Agency. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 3,815 New COVID-19 Infections As Hospitalizations Increase

– 4:09 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 3,815 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday and a record number of hospitalizations.

The new cases mark the third-highest number of infections reported in a single day, behind a record 4,478 cases reported Friday and 4,427 on Saturday, and the 37th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new diagnoses.

Cases have crossed the 2,000 mark in 27 of the last 28 days after Tuesday's 1,814 broke a 26-day streak. The 3,000 mark has been crossed 11 times since the start of the pandemic.

Hospitalizations resulting from the virus rose to a record 1,664 Wednesday. Of those, 384 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units. The number of available, staffed ICU beds in the county dwindled to 39.

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. that was first detected in the United Kingdom.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said it's likely the number of hospitalizations will continue to increase, as we're in the 21-24 day "lag" period between rising cases and rising hospitalizations.

The county's cumulative cases now number 176,662. Of 26,320 tests reported Wednesday, 14% returned positive. – City News Service

San Diego County Officials Give Update On Coronavirus Pandemic

– 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021

San Diego County Gives COVID-19 Update

Governor Newsom to Host Virtual Conversation with Californians Experiencing Economic Hardship

– 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021

VIDEO: Governor Newsom to Host Virtual Conversation with Californians Experiencing Economic Hardship

San Diego County Confirms 32 Cases Of New COVID-19 Strain

– 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021

San Diego County health officials Monday identified 24 confirmed and four probable cases of the more contagious strain of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The 24 new cases of the COVID-19 variant that was first discovered in the United Kingdom, known as B.1.1.7, bring the region’s total to 32 confirmed cases.

Sixteen are men and 16 are women.

Two dozen new variant cases were confirmed on Jan. 4 from specimens collected from Dec. 27 through Dec. 31 and tested at a San Diego-based laboratory.

There have been no COVID-19 deaths connected to the variant, but one woman had to be hospitalized. She is now at home recovering.

The 24 newly confirmed patients are believed to have no travel history and to have come from 19 different households, but the investigation and contact tracing are ongoing.

– KPBS Staff

Grant Funding Deadline Extended For San Diego Small Businesses Impacted by Pandemic

– 5:58 p.m., Monday, Jan. 4, 2021

The deadline for operators of small businesses and nonprofits to apply for $500 million in state COVID-19 relief funds has been extended, a San Diego County supervisor and business officials said Monday.

Those who qualify have until 11:59 p.m. Jan. 13 to apply at www.CaReliefgrant.com, an extension of the original deadline date of Jan. 8. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the grant funds last month for small businesses and nonprofits.

The grants will cover business expenses specifically for small businesses hit by the pandemic. The grants are not first-come, first-serve. A review of all applications will start after the application period ends.

Daniel Fitzgerald, regional director of the San Diego & Imperial SBDC Network, said a team of more than 100 business advisers provided over 20,000 hours of one-on-one assistance in 2020, "helping small business owners access disaster assistance and get through the pandemic."

"With the new state and federal programs, our team will be ready and available to help small businesses," he said. — City News Service

San Diego Reports 35th Day Of More Than 1,000 New COVID-19 Infections

– 5:50 p.m., Monday, Jan. 4, 2021

San Diego County public health officials Monday reported 3,013 new COVID-19 infections, along with an uptick in hospitalizations, to cap off a record-setting weekend for coronavirus cases.

Monday marked the 35th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new infections; the 26th overall with more than 2,000 new cases; and the 10th time the 3,000-case mark has been crossed.

A record 4,478 cases were reported Friday, followed by the second- and fourth-highest numbers -- 4,427 Saturday and 3,520 Sunday. The county has reported 10,960 cases since the New Year, bringing its cumulative case total to 171,033.

The county reported six deaths Monday, bringing the number of fatalities to 1,598. The three men and three women who died between Dec. 24 and Dec. 29 ranged in age from early 60s to late 80s. All had underlying medical conditions.

Of 17,712 tests reported Monday, 17% returned positive. The seven-day, daily average of tests is 22,304.

The county reported 47 new hospitalizations and nine new intensive care admissions Monday, bringing the cumulative number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 during the pandemic to 6,031 and ICU patients to 1,237.

As of Sunday, 1,536 coronavirus patients were in the region's hospitals, with 376 were in ICUs. The county's ICU bed capacity was at 19%, according to county health officials, although with staffing issues, the reality is likely much lower.

The current intensive care unit bed availability for the Southern California region remains at 0%. — City News Service

10 Patients Now At Palomar Field Hospital Site As Virus Surge Overwhelms Hospitals

– 12:31 p.m., Monday, Jan. 4, 2021

Ten patients have been transferred to the field medical facility at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido as the region’s medical infrastructure is becoming overwhelmed by the coronavirus surge.

Overall, 90 patients are currently in the state’s alternate care sites — federal field hospitals set up by the state to alleviate overburdened hospitals, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday.

This comes as some hospitals in the 11-county Southern California region are reporting that they have reached capacity for intensive care unit beds. Newsom activated the field hospitals Dec. 30 and on Dec. 31, El Centro Regional Medical Center, which is bearing the brunt of the coronavirus in Imperial County, reported that it ran out of ICU beds.

According to the California Office of Emergency Services, the Palomar field hospital will serve "the wider San Diego region with a particular eye towards decompressing overburdened hospitals in Imperial County."

The Escondido field medical facility is set up on an unused floor at Palomar hospital and can accommodate up to 200 patients.

Newsom also announced four people were infected with the new more infectious variant of COVID-19 first identified in the United Kingdom. One person was hospitalized.

San Diego County was the location of the second confirmed case of the new variant in the United States. — Alexander Nguyen, North County multimedia producer

Newsom: State Looking To Speed Administration Of COVID-19 Vaccines

– 12:00 p.m., Monday, Jan. 4, 2021

Governor Newsom To Provide Update On The State's Response To COVID-19

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday the state is working to accelerate the administration of COVID-19 vaccines across the state, including expanding the number of distribution sites and the types of people who can give the shots.

Newsom said the state has received nearly 1.3 million doses of the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, and another 611,500 doses have been shipped to the state. As of Sunday, however, a total of 454,306 doses had actually been administered.

"We are working aggressively to accelerate our pace," Newsom said. "... We're going to start seeing more rapid distribution of vaccines, I can assure you of that. That said, it's gone too slowly, I know, for many of us. All of us, I think, we want to see 100% of what's received immediately administered in people's arms.

"So that's a challenge, a challenge across this country. It's a challenge for that matter around the world, but that's not an excuse."

Newsom said the state is working to increase the number of sites where shots can be administered and the people who can give the shots, including dentists, pharmacy technicians and members of the National Guard.

The governor said he has heard "anecdotal evidence" about frontline health care workers — the top priority for receiving the shots — declining to be vaccinated, but he had no specific numbers. He said the state is conducting a survey to get a better idea of the number.

– KPBS Staff

SD County Reports 3,520 New Covid-19 Cases, No New Deaths

5:07 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021

San Diego County public health officials have reported 3,520 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths, bringing the county's totals to 168,020 cases and the death toll remaining at 1,592.

The County Communications Office Sunday reported 46 new hospitalizations from the coronavirus, bringing the total number of hospitalizations to 5,984, and nine new intensive care admissions, bringing the total to 1,228.

Those cases marked the 34th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new infections, and the 25th overall with more than 2,000 new cases. It is the ninth time the 3,000-case mark has been crossed.

A record 4,478 cases were reported Friday.

There were 44 community outbreaks reported in the last seven days. There were 178 cases associated with those outbreaks.

The total number of cases of the new variant, known as B.1.1.7, is four so far in San Diego County.

– City News Service

SD County Reports 4,427 New Covid-19 Cases, No New Deaths

5:33 p.m., Saturday Jan. 2, 2021

San Diego County public health officials have reported 4,427 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths, bringing the county's totals to 164,500 cases and the death toll remaining at 1,592.

The County Communications Office Saturday reported 24 new hospitalizations from the coronavirus, bringing the total number of hospitalizations to 5,938, and 1,219 total in intensive care.

Those cases marked the 33rd consecutive day with more than 1,000 new infections, and the 24th overall with more than 2,000 new cases. It is the eighth time the 3,000 case mark has been crossed and the second straight day that the 4,000 threshold has been reached.

A record 4,478 cases were reported Friday.

There were 49 community outbreaks reported in the last seven days. There were 216 cases associated with those outbreaks.

– City News Service

SD County Breaks 4K Case Mark On New Year’s; More Contagious Strain Spreading

– 9:09 a.m., Saturday Jan. 2, 2021

San Diego County public health officials have reported 4,478 new coronavirus cases along with three additional cases of a new, more contagious variant of the virus first discovered in the U.K.

The County Communications Office reported 45 new hospitalizations on New Year's Day from the coronavirus, three of them in intensive care, along with 58 new deaths.

Those cases marked the 32nd consecutive day with more than 1,000 new infections and the 23rd overall with more than 2,000 new cases. It is the seventh time the 3,000 case mark has been crossed and the first time the 4,000-threshold has been reached.

San Diego County's cumulative totals are now 160,073 cases and 1,592 deaths.

The new cases of the variant, known as B.1.1.7, bring the total to four so far in San Diego County. The variant was first found in the U.S. on Tuesday in Colorado. The first San Diego case is in a man in his 30s with no history of travel, who first became symptomatic Dec. 27 and tested positive Dec. 29. He has been hospitalized and contact tracing is underway.

The additional three cases, reported by county health officials Thursday, were found in two men in their 40s and one in his 50s. Contact tracing shows two men did not travel outside of the county while the third case has yet to be fully interviewed. None of the men had any known interaction with each other or the other confirmed case.

The 1,580 people hospitalized with the virus are a record and the 386 in the ICU with coronavirus are the fourth- most since the pandemic began.

The county is reporting 18% of its ICU beds remain available, but staffing limitations may make that a considerably smaller portion.

– City News Service

County Reports Record 62 COVID-19 Deaths, 3,083 New Cases

– 6:33 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 3,083 new COVID-19 infections and a record 62 deaths due to the virus Thursday as they urge San Diegans to not gather in non-household groups for New Year's Eve celebrations.

Those cases marked the 31st consecutive day with more than 1,000 new infections, and the 22nd overall with more than 2,000 new cases. It is the sixth time the 3,000 case mark has been crossed.

San Diego County's cumulative totals are now 155,595 cases and 1,534 deaths.

Another 43 people with coronavirus were hospitalized Thursday and another three sent to intensive care units. The 1,580 people hospitalized with the virus are a record and the 386 in the ICU with coronavirus are the fourth- most since the pandemic began.

The county is reporting 18% of its ICU beds remain available, but staffing limitations may make that a considerably smaller portion.

Regional hospitals have reported a 120% increase in the number of patients with COVID-19 hospitalized and a 91% increase in the number of patients sent to ICUs in the same time frame. – City News Service

Todd Gloria Signs Exec Order For Stronger Enforcement Of COVID-19 Health Orders

– 2:38 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020

Amid rising COVID-19 case numbers and shrinking ICU capacity, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria Wednesday signed an executive order calling for stronger enforcement of state and county public health orders throughout the city.

The newly elected mayor said he's directed the San Diego Police Department and City Attorney's Office to pursue fines of up to $1,000 and "potentially other enforcement actions against public nuisances who choose to endanger the lives of others and blatantly and egregiously defy the provisions of state and county public health orders."

The bolstered enforcement efforts go into effect at 11:59 p.m.

The executive order, which comes one day after California extended its regional stay-at-home order for the Southern California region due to surging COVID-19 hospitalizations, also suspends enforcement of parking regulations throughout the city "in an effort to encourage San Diegans to abide by the stay-at-home order." – City News Service

County Reports 2,448 New COVID-19 Infections, New Variant Infection Found

– 2:38 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 37 COVID-19-related deaths and 2,448 infections Wednesday, including one individual infected with a new, more contagious variant of the virus first discovered in the United Kingdom.

The variant, known as B.1.1.7, was first found in the United States Tuesday in Colorado. The San Diego case is in a man in his 30s with no history of travel who first became symptomatic Dec. 27 and tested positive Dec. 29. He has not been hospitalized and contact tracing is underway.

"Because there is no travel history, we believe this is not an isolated case in San Diego County," County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said.

Kristian Andersen, a professor in the department of immunology and microbiology at the Scripps Research Institute, said due to the county's size and connection to other large, urban areas, finding the U.K. variant was not a surprise. He also said while the variant in the United Kingdom does appear to spread between people far easier, there's no evidence yet that symptoms are any more severe.

"We don't yet know, but we should prepare that this is probably what we are going to see in the coming months," Andersen said. "We just do not have the data yet. Speculation is just something I do not like to do." – City News Service

New Coronavirus Variant Detected In San Diego

– 2:38 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020

A San Diego resident tested positive for the new coronavirus variant, known as B.1.1.7, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher confirmed Wednesday. The patient, a man in his 30s, had not traveled before his positive test.

This is the second confirmed case of the U.K. variant in the United States, following the first case in Colorado.

"Because there is no travel history, we believe this is not an isolated case in San Diego and there are other cases of the same strain in San Diego," Fletcher said.

The man has not been hospitalized, San Diego County Deputy Public Health Officer Eric McDonald said.

County officials did not provide any other details about the person who was infected with the mutated version of the virus.

Newsom said he had just learned of the finding in a Southern California infection Wednesday. He announced it during an online conversation with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious-disease expert.

“I don’t think Californians should think that this is odd; it’s to be expected," Fauci said.

The Colorado and California cases have triggered a host of questions about how the variant circulating in England arrived in the U.S. and whether it is too late to stop it now, with top experts saying it is probably already spreading elsewhere in the United States. — KPBS Staff and Associated Press

California Announces First Case Of Virus Variant

– 1:40 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced the first known case of the new and apparently more contagious variant of the coronavirus in the nation’s most populated state. It follows the first reported U.S. case in Colorado.

Newsom said he had just learned of the finding in a Southern California case Wednesday. He announced it during an online conversation with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert.

Newsom did not provide any other details about the person who was infected.

The Colorado and California cases have triggered a host of questions about how the mutant version circulating in England arrived in the U.S. and whether it is too late to stop it now. — Associated Press

California Governor Offers Plans To Reopen In-Person Schools

– 11:53 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom encouraged schools to resume in-person education next year.

He wants to start with the youngest students and promised $2 billion in state aid to promote coronavirus testing, increased ventilation of classrooms and personal protective equipment.

He said the recommendation announced Wednesday was driven by increasing evidence that there are lower risks and increased benefits from in-person instruction, particularly for the youngest students. The proposal comes as California remains consumed by a growing pandemic crisis.

Newsom reported 432 additional deaths. But hope is on the horizon as vaccines begin rolling out, with educators among those recommended for shots after the initial round goes to health care workers. — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 2,532 New COVID-19 Infections

– 6:08 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 2,532 new COVID-19 infections and 31 additional deaths due to the illness Tuesday, as the state extended regional stay-at-home orders.

The new cases mark the 29th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new infections, and the 20th overall day with more than 2,000 new cases. The 3,000 mark has been crossed five times.

The state's regional order, which covers an 11-county Southern California area, took effect at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 6 and was set to expire Monday. But with the region's intensive-care unit capacity at hospitals still officially listed at 0%, the order was extended indefinitely.

The state's Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, said four-week projections indicate incoming COVID-19 patients are expected to continue exceeding ICU capacity in the region. Ghaly said the four-week projections are evaluated daily, and the region can emerge from the stay-at- home order whenever the projection indicates a region's ICU capacity will rise above 15%. – City News Service

Regional Stay-At-Home Order Extended For Southern California, San Joaquin Valley

– 12:25 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020

Regional stay-at-home orders are extended for the regions of Southern California and San Joaquin Valley, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced Tuesday.

The stay-home orders first imposed three weeks ago were set to expire Monday, but the dire intensive care unit bed shortage prompted the order extension.

Ghaly did not say how long the order is extended.

WATCH LIVE: With Lockdown Extension Expected, California Public Health Officer Dr. Mark Ghaly Gives Update On COVID-19

Lifting of the stay-at-home orders requires regions to have ICU capacity projections to be above or equal to 15%. Southern California’s ICU availability is currently at 0.0%. The number does not necessarily mean there are no ICU beds available since the state adjusts the percentage downward if counties have a higher-than-expected ratio of COVID-19 patients occupying ICU space.

The worst is expected to come in the next few weeks after Christmas and New Year's travelers return home. California hit 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Christmas Eve, becoming the first state to reach the grim milestone. State officials said Sunday afternoon the stay-home orders were likely to be extended but did not make a definitive ruling. – KPBS Staff, Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 1,751 COVID-19 Infections As It Awaits Newsom’s Order

– 5:39 p.m., Monday, Dec. 28, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 1,751 new COVID-19 infections Monday — marking the 28th day with more than 1,000 cases — as leaders around the region await Gov. Gavin Newsom's likely formal extension of a regional stay-at-home order.

That order, which covers an 11-county Southern California area, took effect at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 6 and was set to expire Monday. But with the region's intensive-care unit capacity at hospitals still effectively listed at 0%, Newsom said the order is all but certain to be extended.

A formal announcement had been expected Monday, but was delayed until Tuesday. Newsom said the state was still compiling hospital and case data, and completing hospital-demand projections for the next four weeks.

He noted, however, that based upon large number of people who appeared to have ignored warnings against travel over the Christmas holiday — and those who will likely so do over the upcoming New Year's holiday, the state is bracing for a "surge on top of a surge, arguably on top of, again, another surge." — City News Service

San Dieguito School District Board Reverses Decision To Reopen In January

– 5:20 p.m., Monday, Dec. 28, 2020

One of the few San Diego County school districts that had scheduled a January reopening is now putting those plans on hold after its teachers union filed a lawsuit alleging district officials were not abiding by state guidelines for resuming in-person learning.

Earlier this month, the San Dieguito Union High School District unveiled its ambitious reopening plan to allow students to return to campus part-time starting Jan. 4th and full-time starting Jan. 27th.

The school board rescinded that plan on Monday in a 4-to-1 vote after the teachers union sued the district, arguing that it could not reopen schools while the county was still in the state’s most restrictive purple tier for COVID-19 cases. – Joe Hong, KPBS Education Reporter

Reginal Stay-At-Home Order Expected To Be Extended Tuesday

– 1:36 p.m., Monday, Dec. 28, 2020

A regional stay-at-home order in effect across Southern California due to surging COVID-19 hospitalizations is expected to be formally extended Tuesday, continuing a ban on all gatherings of people from different households and strict capacity limits at many businesses.

The order, which covers an 11-county Southern California area, took effect at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 6 and was set to expire Monday. But with the region's intensive-care unit capacity at hospitals still effectively listed at 0%, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the order is all but certain to be extended.

A formal announcement had been expected Monday, but Newsom said the state was still compiling hospital and case data, and completing hospital- demand projections for the next four weeks. He said the official announcement on extending the order will be made Tuesday by Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's Health and Human Services secretary.

Newsom noted that COVID hospital admissions have begun to plateau across much of the state -- with the exception of Southern California, with Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties continuing to be the hardest hit.

WATCH: Gov. Gavin Newsom Expected To Extend Regional Stay-At-Home Order

Los Angeles County has rapidly become the epicenter of the pandemic in the state, with the state reporting more than 7,100 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, including more than 1,400 in intensive-care unit beds. Newsom said 96% of Los Angeles County hospitals diverted ambulances to other facilities at some point over the weekend due to overcrowding in emergency rooms -- up from a normal average of 33% of hospitals going on diversion.

According to the governor, Los Angeles County hospitals on average spent 16 hours on diversion over the weekend, unable to find space for emergency patients.

The Southern California region covers Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Imperial, Inyo, Mono, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Most broadly, the order bars gatherings of people from different households. — City News Service