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

A sign at a City Heights corner store advising people to socially distance du...

Photo by Alexander Nguyen

Above: A sign at a City Heights corner store advising people to socially distance during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dec. 25, 2020.

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.

RELATED: Tracking COVID-19 In San Diego

The county is quickly approaching 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. Just 50 hospital beds were available for non-coronavirus patients as of Thursday.

The HHSA reported a 91% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the last 30 days and a 71% increase in ICU admittance in the same period.

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

The county's cumulative cases now number 180,512 and the death toll rose to 1,738. Of 33,491 tests reported Thursday, 11% returned positive, increasing the 14-day rolling average to 13.8% from 13.5% Wednesday.

Another eight community outbreaks were reported Thursday. There have been 38 outbreaks in the last seven days, tied to 156 cases.

County health officials attribute the increasing number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths to gatherings over the holidays and the presence of the new coronavirus variant known as B.1.1.7. first detected in the United Kingdom.

The county reported 24 confirmed diagnoses of the more virulent strain of the virus on Tuesday, bringing the county's confirmed cases of the variant to 28.

The cases were confirmed by whole genome sequencing and the four probable cases are directly linked to the confirmed cases and have positive diagnostic nucleic acid tests, but are not yet sequenced.

There have been no confirmed deaths locally connected to the variant.

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