COVID-19 hospitalizations at one of lowest rates since pandemic began

San Diego County reported 373 new COVID-19 infections and five additional virus-related deaths Friday, while hospitalizations have declined to their lowest point since July 2021 — one of the lowest points since the pandemic began.

The 115 patients hospitalized Friday — down seven from Thursday — are the fewest since last summer, before the Delta variant arrived. Same for the patients in intensive care units — 27 on Friday, down one from the day prior — the fewest since 23 on July 12, 2021.

Available ICU beds decreased by one to 231.

However, Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, has tweeted that the incoming wave of BA.2 variant cases could be cause for alarm, as cases in China have spiked and in the United States, the test positivity rates have increased to 3.5% from 2.8% a week earlier. In San Diego County, that positivity rate is 3.2%, according to Health and Human Services Agency numbers.

Friday’s data increased the county’s cumulative totals to 752,705 cases and 5,215 deaths, an increase of 1,714 cases and 30 deaths over the past week.

Close to 2.96 million San Diegans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, or around 94% of those eligible. Nearly 2.6 million, or 82.6% of those eligible, are fully vaccinated. A total of 1,221,004 booster shots have been administered.

San Diego County began modifying its COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts this week to better reach San Diegans who struggle with accessing these services.

The focus will include providing its resources at public health centers and through mobile services, the county said, including two Live Well on Wheels buses and a bookmobile, which has been repurposed as a mobile vaccine clinic.

This shift comes as the majority of COVID vaccinations and tests in the region are now administered through pharmacies, medical offices and hospitals. About 10% of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are being administered through the county.

“We have seen low demand at several of our existing testing and vaccination sites and are therefore shifting our efforts to more of the underserved safety net approach,” said Dr. Wilma J. Wooten, county public health officer. “The county remains committed to providing no-cost vaccinations and testing across the region but recognize that most people now get these services elsewhere.”

Changes in the testing process have also come to the seven state-funded COVID-19 testing sites the county organizes. Individuals will now initially be administered an antigen test and wait about 15 minutes for the results to come back. If the results of the antigen test are positive, the individual is given a confirmatory PCR test, with results expected back within one day. In the meantime, they are advised to follow isolation protocol.

The seven locations across the county that are offering the no-cost antigen/PCR testing process are:

  • North Coastal Live Well Center, 3708 Ocean Ranch Blvd., Oceanside;
  • Kimball Senior Center, 1221 D Ave., National City;
  • Former Boys & Girls Club, 1301 Oleander Ave., Chula Vista;
  • Assessor Recorder County Clerk Building, 200 S. Magnolia Ave., El Cajon;
  • North Inland Live Well Center, 649 W. Mission Ave., Escondido;
  • Imperial Beach Sports Park Recreation Center, 425 Imperial Beach Blvd., Imperial Beach; and
  • Former USD Electronics Recycling Center, 5330 Linda Vista Road, San Diego.

More information about appointments and walk-ups is available at coronavirus-sd.com.