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San Diego COVID-19 Deaths Remain High But New Infections Rate Down

A man gets the COVID-19 vaccine at San Diego County's "Vaccination Superstation" in Chula Vista, Calif. Jan. 21, 2021.
Roland Lizarondo
A man gets the COVID-19 vaccine at San Diego County's "Vaccination Superstation" in Chula Vista, Calif. 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.

RELATED: COVID-19 Vaccination Superstation Opens in Chula Vista, Second In County

VIDEO: San Diego COVID-19 Deaths Remain High But New Infections Rate Down

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.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the numbers, but wanted to see a longer downward trend and warned the public not to become complacent.


"Numbers can rapidly turn around and go the other direction," he said.

The few new cases reported Thursday come with a caveat as well, as just 8,635 tests were reported and 14% returned positive. The county is averaging more than 24,000 daily tests over the past several weeks, with nearly 12% returning positive. Thursday's data could be an outlier.

There is more good news on the vaccine front, as more than 173,000 doses of the vaccine have been shipped to the county in the past 48 hours, Fletcher said. With 181,738 total vaccinations administered, and 29,158 people having received both doses, at least 1% of the county's population over the age of 16 has been inoculated. Fletcher said the number of vaccines administered is likely much higher, but health providers have been slow to update.

Supervisor Nora Vargas announced a second "Vaccination Super Station" opened Thursday in Chula Vista. A smaller vaccine site will open this weekend in National City. These are intended to provide relief to the hard-hit South Bay region and its Latino population.

Latinos make up around 34% of the county's total population but comprise 56.9% of all COVID-19 cases, 54.2% of all hospitalizations from the virus and 44.1% of the deaths.

The supervisors reminded people who can currently receive vaccines in Tier 1 — medical professionals and those age 75 and older — to make appointments before showing up to a vaccination station. Fletcher said people without appointments were creating much of the traffic people have seen around the sites — such as the one adjacent to Petco Park downtown.