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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

San Diego’s COVID-19 Hospitalizations Continue To Go Down

A man getting nasal swapped for a coronavirus test at the Tubman-Chavez Commu...

Photo by Jacob Aere

Above: A man getting nasal swapped for a coronavirus test at the Tubman-Chavez Community Center, one of San Diego County's free testing sites, on Nov. 30, 2020.

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 today.

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.

Curious how the vaccine rollout is going in San Diego County? KPBS is tracking the progress.

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.

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.

Fletcher announced Thursday the Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District will immediately begin offering free transit rides on buses and trolleys to get people to and from their vaccination appointments. Riders will only need to show a confirmation email of their vaccine appointment that day. This can be a printout or on a smartphone.

Reported by Matt Hoffman

"As the county continues to ramp up vaccination efforts we want to ensure San Diego residents have every opportunity to get to their appointment," said Fletcher, MTS board chair. "Our goal is to make sure our region is able to overcome this crisis and do all we can for the health and safety of residents. Offering free rides on transit is a crucial component in that effort, and ensuring equity of access to the county vaccination centers."

It was announced Wednesday a new Vaccination Super Station will open in North County on Sunday. The vaccine distribution site will open on the Cal State San Marcos campus, with the capability to vaccinate up to 5,000 individuals a day with appointments. Appointments for that site can be made starting Saturday.

Fletcher said an East County Super Station is in the works for next week, but he didn't name a date or location.

Appointments can be made at www.vaccinationsuperstationsd.com.

After more than six weeks of the 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 most- restrictive "purple" tier of economic reopening guidelines.

The county's adjusted case rate is 49.6 new cases per 100,000 population. To be dropped into the more permissive red tier of the state's four- level reopening plan, cases have to be fewer than seven per 100,000.

The regional stay-at-home order was imposed in Southern California on Dec. 7, after ICU availability dropped below 15%. The regional availability subsequently dropped to an adjusted 0%.

Although the state order has been lifted, individual counties are still able to impose stricter restrictions than the state.

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