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

A CVS mobile COVID-19 testing center in Chula Vista on Dec. 19, 2020.
Alexander Nguyen
A CVS mobile COVID-19 testing center in Chula Vista on Dec. 19, 2020.

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.

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The county has surpassed 80% of its hospital beds occupied, a significant number due to the county reserving the last 20% of its licensed beds exclusively for COVID-19 patients. New patients, according to a plan developed by the county HHSA last year, could be turned away in some cases.

The HHSA reported a 89% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the last 30 days and a 67% increase in ICU admittance in the same period.

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


The county's cumulative cases now number 185,062 and the death toll rose to 1,771. Of 28,952 tests reported Friday, 16% returned positive, increasing the 14-day rolling average to 14.3% from 13.8% Thursday.

Another 10 community outbreaks were reported Friday. There have been 40 outbreaks in the last seven days, tied to 165 cases.

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

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

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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.