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San Diego County Reports 226 New COVID-19 Cases, 7 Deaths

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

San Diego County public health officials reported 226 new COVID-19 cases and seven deaths, as the average positive testing rate continues to drop.

Of 11,265 tests reported Saturday, 2% returned positive, lowering the 14-day rolling average to 1.3%, a record for 2021.

Saturday's data increased the county's cumulative total to 277,759 cases and 3,725 deaths.

Hospitalizations increased to 145 from Friday's 143, while the number of patients in intensive care units increased from 35 Friday to 38 in Saturday's report. There are 62 available, staffed ICU beds in the county.

On Friday, San Diego County announced it will partner with employers, business chambers and other groups to help host large-scale vaccination events by providing vaccines and medical personnel to administer them.

Any entity capable of coordinating a large vaccination event can visit coronavirus-sd.com/vaccine, click on the "Host a Vaccination Event" button, fill out the form, and a county team member will follow up. A large event is considered to be hundreds, if not thousands of participants.

RELATED: Tracking COVID-19 In San Diego County

The Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce has successfully organized five events since March with key employers in that area, with the smallest event involving about 800 participants and the largest with more than 2,200.

The county has received 3,546,365 doses of coronavirus vaccines — 254,960 this week alone. That is 61,000 fewer than the week previous.

A total of 1,702,257 people have received one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, 84.4% of the way toward reaching the county's goal of vaccinating 75% of San Diego County residents 16 and older, or 2,017,011 people.

A total of 1,208,307 — or 59.9% of the county's goal — of the 16-or- older age cohort are fully inoculated with either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

These numbers now include the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration data, which will be updated every two weeks.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer, said Thursday she was encouraged the county's 16-19 age group is already nearly a third vaccinated — particularly because that group wasn't even eligible until the state opened vaccines to everyone 16 or older on April 15.

Rotating pop-up vaccination clinics will begin this week at high- traffic areas such as community centers, churches and colleges. A full list of county-run vaccination sites can be found at coronavirus-sd.com/vaccine.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Thursday he was "not optimistic" the county will graduate into the least-restrictive of the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy tiers before June 15, the date Gov. Gavin Newsom has set to lift remaining restrictions set up to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The county is in the orange tier of the color-coded system due to an adjusted case rate of five new daily cases per 100,000 people. That is a significant improvement over the week before, when that adjusted case rate was 6.2, but it remains well above the fewer-than-two daily cases needed to move into the yellow tier — the reopening plan's least restrictive — and allow for essentially all businesses to reopen.

Los Angeles and San Francisco counties transitioned into the yellow tier on Tuesday.

To advance, San Diego County would have to report statistics in the yellow tier for two consecutive weeks. Due to the delayed nature of the pandemic and how data is reported, that is unlikely — but not impossible — to happen. The state reports data on counties on Tuesdays.