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San Diego's COVID-19 hospitalizations tick upward to 156 patients

Vons Starbucks COVID-19 vaccines
Alexander Nguyen
/
KPBS
A Vons supermarket in San Diego County offers COVID-19 vaccines on March 21, 2022.

The number of people hospitalized with a coronavirus infection in San Diego County has increased by three people to 156, according to the latest state numbers released Friday.

Of those patients, 23 were being treated in intensive care, also an increase of three from the previous day's total.

Some of the patients entered the hospital for other reasons and discovered they had the coronavirus after a required test.

Local health officials continue to urge caution as winter approaches and three highly communicable respiratory viruses remain present in the community. In addition to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the county is seeing an early spike of flu and respiratory syncytial virus cases. Flu cases rose by 1,198 during the past week and have hit 3,735 to date, compared to 265 cases at this time last year.

According to the county's Health and Human Services Agency, influenza cases typically do not peak until December — at which time RSV begins to increase. Regional RSV cases reached 1,020 through October, compared with 407 for the same period last year.

The HHSA is using some of the same tactics developed during the COVID- 19 pandemic to try to curb the spread of disease.

"We know and have witnessed how diseases can have a disproportionate impact, especially in communities of color," said Nora Vargas, vice chair of the County Board of Supervisors. "Our county has greatly expanded outreach and implemented innovative strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I'm committed to ensuring our communities have equitable access to resources such as vaccinations, treatment and accurate information to protect their health and safety."

The county's COVID numbers increased from 1,702 cases reported last week to 2,016 this week. The cumulative total infections climbed to 933,270. Deaths linked to the virus increased by 11 to a cumulative total of 5,543 this week.

County health officials have announced a collaboration with regional medical providers to support their response to the recent influx in illnesses.

"Health care providers are experiencing the effects of these viruses right now in regional medical centers and clinics across our bi-national region," UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said. "UC San Diego Health was an early leader nationally in COVID response due to its medical expertise and innovative partnerships with researchers, business and community leaders and government agencies.

"Leveraging the valuable lessons learned from the pandemic, I am confident San Diego will continue to be a model city for public health response through cooperation, transparency and the willingness to share resources," he said.

The HHSA urged San Diegans to get vaccinated now, as both the flu and COVID vaccine take two weeks to become fully effective.

"Seeing a large number of flu cases this early in the flu season typically means flu activity is going to be sustained and possibly more severe," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. "If more viruses are circulating in the community, healthy people are at a higher risk of getting infected, so this year more than ever, it is critical to get vaccinated."

More than 2.68 million or 80.3% of San Diegans have received the primary series of one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines. A total of 1,485,461 or 59.6% of 2,490,433 eligible San Diegans have received a booster.

According to area hospitals, the viruses currently in circulation are hitting seniors and children particularly hard. Flu and RSV patients are currently filling local pediatric care providers, with wait times at Rady Children's Hospital exceeding several hours this past week.

"RSV is a common virus in children that usually appears during winter months. The difference this year is that we are seeing it earlier and at unprecedented levels, which has impacted emergency department wait times and hospital capacity," said Dr. Patrick Frias, president and CEO of Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego. "You can make a difference by getting the entire family vaccinated against flu and COVID, staying home when sick, and seeking the right level of care to ensure the sickest patients are able to access medical services in the most appropriate setting."

Additionally, the county's schools are seeing the impact of the trio of viruses on students and faculty.

"Schools have learned many lessons from the height of the pandemic that can support our collective efforts to care for staff, students and their families," said San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Paul Gothold, who cited increased collaboration with public health officials, improved air filtration systems and implementation of health practices to mitigate viruses. "As a parent myself, I want to reassure our community that we have the resources and collective experience to get through this, but it's going to take everyone doing their part."

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