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San Diego County Reports 2,206 COVID-19 Cases As First Vaccines Arrive

A sign reminding people of socially distance during the COVID-19 pandemic at Tuna Harbor Park at the Embarcadero in downtown San Diego on Dec. 13, 2020.
Alexander Nguyen
A sign reminding people of socially distance during the COVID-19 pandemic at Tuna Harbor Park at the Embarcadero in downtown San Diego on Dec. 13, 2020.
Crowded ICUs and increasing deaths are taking a toll on doctors and nurses. Elizabeth Jones, a nurse at UCSD Medical Center in La Jolla, whom we first spoke with in March spoke to Midday Edition on behalf of the California Nurses Association.

The first batches of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine arrived in San Diego County on Monday, with initial shots to begin as soon as today, as officials announced 2,206 new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continued to climb.

Monday was the sixth consecutive day that more than 2,000 new cases were reported, with 2,416 Sunday, 2,490 Saturday and a record 2,867 Friday.

It was also the 14th day with more than 1,000 new cases. It is just the eighth time that daily cases have crossed 2,000 — the first of which occurred Dec. 3. The new COVID-19 infections reported Monday raised the region's cumulative total to 109,578. No new deaths were reported, and that total remains 1,162.


What's driving coronavirus surge? Check out the KPBS Trigger Tracker

Naval Medical Center San Diego received an unspecified number of vaccines Monday, with front-line medical workers and essential mission personnel — such as EMS, firefighters and gate personnel — to begin receiving the first dose of the vaccinations Tuesday.

Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton will take a portion of those doses for personnel north of San Diego and plans to administer vaccines beginning Wednesday.

San Diego County also received 12,000 doses of the vaccines Monday, with an additional 16,000 split between UC San Diego Medical Center and Rady Children's Hospital to arrive Tuesday. The county is storing its doses of vaccine in subzero freezers and will redistribute them to regional acute-care hospitals.

RELATED: San Diego County Receives First COVID-19 Vaccines For Military, Civilians

The 28,000 allotment for the county is part of around 327,000 doses California is expected to receive in the first distribution. The initial allotment will cover around 72% of what is needed for "all identified health care first-tier recipients," San Diego County spokesman Jose Alvarez said.


"The arrival of the vaccine is great news and will give us the best tool to slow the spread of the pandemic," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "However, this does not mean people should not continue taking the necessary precautions to avoid getting COVID-19."

Vaccinations at skilled nursing facilities will be handled separately. The facilities reported to the state how many they needed and are not part of the initial 28,000 distributed in the county. Subsequent allocations earmarked for nursing facilities will go to commercial pharmacies to be directly administered to skilled nursing facility residents and staff under a contract with the federal government.

Critical care health workers will be the first people to get the vaccine, followed by nursing home and long-term care facility residents and employees. As other pharmaceutical companies receive emergency use authorization, more vaccines will arrive in the region, Alvarez said.

Of 21,302 tests reported to the county, 10% returned positive, raising the county's 14-day average to 8.2%.

The number of hospitalizations also continues to rise, with 41 people hospitalized and seven more patients put in intensive care units. A total of 1,035 people are hospitalized in the county due to the virus, with 278 of those in ICUs — both records.

The county's hospitals have 17% of their ICU beds available, down from 18% Sunday but an improvement from 16% Saturday. The state estimates the ICU bed availability in the 11-county Southern California region at 2.7%, down from 4.2% on Sunday.

In the San Joaquin Valley, all available ICU beds are full. The Greater Sacramento region has 14.8% of ICU beds available, the Bay Area 17.8%, with Northern California at 29.0%.

San Diego County has seen a 213% increase in COVID-19 related hospitalizations in the past 30 days and a 155% increase in ICU patients in the same time frame. The previous peak in hospitalizations, in mid-July, topped out around 400 patients.

One new community outbreak was reported Monday. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.