San Diego County reports 3,653 COVID cases, 11 deaths
Cases of COVID 19 are once again, on the rise in San Diego county on Tuesday, the county reported more than 3,600 new cases. That's the highest number of new cases in a single day, since last winter, and now due to the growing number of cases and the increased demand for testing. We are at risk of straining hospitals. Again, Paul Sien is the health reporter for the San Diego union Tribune, and he joins us now for more on the latest COVID 19 news. Hi Paul. Hi, thanks for having me, as I mentioned, the county reported a huge single day increase in cases. Can you put that in context for us? How does this compare to last year and are we seeing major differences from last winter surge
Speaker 2: (00:40)
In know, looking at the numbers and going back to last year, it looks like the number of new cases that the county is recording daily is maybe even a bit higher than it was this time. Last year, you know, the only higher numbers as you said, were, were seeing it kind of at the peak of the winter surge and in, uh, mid to late January area of this year. So it really does look like we have quite a surge on our hands. Uh, you know, as, as everyone is aware, we, we still have new year's Eve parties to get through. And, uh, you know, last year the clubs and bars and, uh, and indoor dining and restaurants was, uh, was not open. So, uh, so we've definitely, they got a situation where this appears to be spreading quite quickly, and there's going to be a heck of a lot more social interaction, uh, just coming up tomorrow than there was, uh, last year. So, uh, you know, talking to people in ERs and, and such they're, uh, they're all really expecting, uh, uh, O CRO to spread like wild. Uh, before we get through this holiday season, the, the hospitals are really, uh, expecting a, a significant surge, uh, in January. And perhaps even into February,
Speaker 1: (01:54)
Hospitals are seeing increases in COVID admissions, but not as many as this time last year, despite that the county issued an emergency alert yesterday because of the traffic in emergency rooms, what's driving this uptick and how are hospitals responding?
Speaker 2: (02:08)
Yeah, that's right. Uh, we learned about the, the county EMS service, uh, putting out a bulletin to all of the local emergency rooms, letting them know that many were having to go on what's called diversion, uh, where they significantly reduced the number of ambulances they can receive, uh, because they're full. Uh, and, and so, uh, you know, I guess at one point yesterday, about half of the 22 ERs in town were in that diversion category and, and through some skillful maneuver and they were able to bring that number down by the evening. You know, there are several different things driving this, you know, of course a lot of people are infected in symptoms and coming in and, and they're worried, uh, and they want a doctor to check them out. Uh, and then, uh, what we also heard from Dr. Canning at county EMS, uh, yesterday was that some appeared to be coming in just to get tested, uh, that they, you know, the, the lines for testing at the 400, uh, different testing locations across the county are very, very long.
Speaker 2: (03:04)
Uh, you know, we, we had a photographer down in Chula Vista yesterday who observed, uh, weights at one testing facility in south bay that were over two hours to get tested. Uh, so it appears that some folks are, are getting frustrated, waiting in those long lines and just going to the nearest are and coming in and saying, I don't feel well. And that, you know, they, they buy, uh, by routine test, everybody who comes to the door, uh, for COVID no matter what their symptoms are. Uh, so it looks like part of the ER surge that we're seeing right now across the county is linked to an increased demand for testing. Uh, although there are plenty people coming in with symptoms as well, talking to one physician at, at sharp yesterday, what he said was, you know, we're seeing these folks come in, they they're a bit younger than they, than they were last year. Uh, and what we're not finding is nearly as much, uh, respiratory distress. Uh, as, as we saw last year, we, we're seeing a lot, a lot more, um, minor symptoms.
Speaker 1: (03:59)
I wanna ask you something really quickly. You said ambulances are being diverted. What impact does that have on patients and the emergency healthcare system as a whole?
Speaker 2: (04:08)
It has a, an immediate and direct, uh, impact what it means is, uh, you might be taken if you have a serious problem. If you have, if you're having a heart attack or, or if you have a broken leg or, you know, any kind of emergent situation, uh, you might be taken further away, uh, than you otherwise would be. Uh, you, you know, if your local, uh, hospital is on bypass, you might find yourself traveling further for care, you know, because your local ER is inundated.
Speaker 1: (04:35)
Right. And I also wanna ask you, so you're mentioning that a lot of this strain is because people wanna get test did, and they know that they can do that in the emergency room. So if people are listening to this, what should they do instead if they really do wanna get tested?
Speaker 2: (04:47)
Um, you know, uh, I guess the, the main advice is have patients , which a lot of people don't have, especially when they're standing outside in the rain and it's cold outside. Uh, you know, it's totally understandable that people don't really want to do that, you know, but also if you, uh, if you don't have symptoms, uh, and, and you've just been exposed, uh, you know, it looks like this illness is pretty mild. Uh, you know, if you don't wanna wait for testing and you don't wanna go into the ER, one thing you can do is just monitor your symptoms. It's, it's a good idea to have what they call a pulse ox in your house that allows you to, uh, to monitor your, uh, blood oxygen levels. And so that's one good way to kind of know if your body is really being impacted, but, you know, if you, if you can't get tested and, and you don't have the patients to wait in those lines, uh, you should probably curtail your, um, contact with other people until you, until you are able to get tested. But sadly, it doesn't really seem like there's a, a simple, quick fix. Uh, it can short circuit the line for testing. It's just, uh, there's so much demand everywhere right now that it's just, uh, it's gonna be a long wait. That seems to be the, uh, the reality, sadly,
Speaker 1: (05:52)
In your reporting. You say that compared to last year, when patients came into hospitals with COVID 19, it was presenting a lot more severely. Now it's much more like the flu, which tracks with what we've been hearing of the Omicron variant. What do doctors and experts say that you've been talking to about people taking Omicron less seriously? Because it appears to present more mildly,
Speaker 2: (06:12)
You know, they're right in the middle of it. So they, they don't, uh, you know, they've, they've been asking people to, of get vaccinated and kind of curtail their, their activities for months now. And, um, you know, they're, they're somewhat frustrated that people haven't done that, but, uh, at this point the interactions have already happened. Uh, you know, even if you got vaccinated today, it wouldn't take effect immediately. So you wouldn't be immediately protected. So I, I think they're kind of in a Humper down kind of mentality. They, they know that a, a big wave of patients is going to come at them and that it really can't be stopped at this point. I've
Speaker 1: (06:43)
Been speaking with San Diego union Tribune, health reporter, Paul Sien. Thank you so much for joining us. I know we'll be talking to you a lot more in 2022. Yeah.
Speaker 2: (06:51)
I'm looking forward to it and, uh, happy new year, happy new year.
San Diego County reported 3,653 new COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths in its most recent data as public health officials continue to urge people to take precautions.
This is the highest number of new cases reported since Jan. 7 of this year, when 4,550 cases were reported.
The most recent data, reported Wednesday, increased the county's cumulative totals to 420,089 cases and 4,461 deaths.
The COVID-19 case rate is three times higher for those San Diegans who are unvaccinated compared to those who have received vaccines — 36 daily cases per 100,000 for unvaccinated compared to 11.4 per 100,000 for the vaccinated. Additionally, the hospitalization rate is four times higher for the unvaccinated and death rate is seven times higher.
RELATED: California 1st state to top 5M COVID cases amid omicron surge
Delta remains the most common variant in San Diego County, with more than 17,000 cases reported since mid-April. Omicron has just 91 confirmed cases in the county, but the time period measured began on Dec. 3. There have been no deaths from Omicron reported in the county and one hospitalization, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported.
The number of county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 increased from Tuesday's numbers by 16 to 427 and the number of ICU patients increased by six to 102, according to state data.
A total of 28,472 tests were reported in San Diego County Wednesday, and the seven-day average positivity rate was 14.5%, up from 12.4% on Tuesday.