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SD County COVID-19 hospitalizations dropping, but vaccine access still an issue


Last updated 2/4/2021 at 9:58am

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - While COVID-19 hospitalizations in San Diego County continue to decline, health officials say the number of vaccines continues to be insufficient for demand.

The news came Wednesday as the county reported 968 new coronavirus infections and 54 new virus-related deaths.

It was the second straight day the county reported fewer than 1,000 new cases. Prior to Tuesday, the county had logged at least that many every day since Nov. 30.

County Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher praised the work county staff has done in getting vaccine infrastructure running, but admitted the number of actual vaccines available is behind what he would like.

"Efforts have far outpaced the supply of vaccines,'' he said.

The county has the capacity to administer more than 20,000 vaccines daily and expects to raise that to 30,000 next week, Fletcher said, but only has the supplies to administer around 10,000 vaccines a day. He asked for patience as the county was working to get more doses.

"Because of this, we only make appointments available for vaccines we have or are confident are coming,'' he said. ``We don't want to cancel an appointment.''

Of the county's 1,347 long term nursing care facilities, 911 have already received at least the first dose of the vaccine, Fletcher said.

Fletcher said San Diego was behind only Contra Costa County in California's largest counties in terms of how many vaccines have been administered. According to the county Health and Human Services Agency, San Diego County has received 586,325 doses of vaccine and has administered 357,507 doses.

Around 2% of the population over the age of 16 are fully vaccinated, but Fletcher said numbers of doses administered are likely ``significantly delayed.''

Wednesday marked the second consecutive day with fewer than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases. Tuesday was the first day since Nov. 30 to fail to cross that number.

Wednesday's data raised the county's cumulative caseload to 241,018 and the death toll to 2,683 amid signs that the post-holiday surge is waning.

The HHSA reported 1,265 people hospitalized with the virus on Wednesday — down 32 from Tuesday. Of those hospitalized, 369 are in intensive care units, down 15 from Tuesday.

The county's peak for COVID-19 hospitalizations — 1,804 — was set Jan. 12 and has declined since. The record for ICU hospitalizations of coronavirus patients — 438 — was set on Jan. 20, and has also declined slowly since with the exception of a 12-patient bump on Monday.

There are 40 available staffed ICU beds in the county, but Fletcher said that number isn't likely to increase any time soon. Due to filling hospital beds over the last several months, many non-emergency surgeries and procedures were postponed. Hospitals are rushing to make those up now while COVID-19 beds become available.

Of the 19,794 tests reported Wednesday, 5% returned positive, bringing the 14-day average percentage of positive cases below 8%. As recently as Jan. 13, that average was above 13%.

The county's adjusted case rate as of Tuesday is 42.5 new cases per 100,000 population in the past seven days. That's a drop of 7.1 per 100,000 over the past week. To be dropped into the more permissive red tier of the state's four-level reopening plan, cases have to be fewer than seven per 100,000.

San Diego became authorized to administer vaccines Tuesday, and city paramedics began providing doses in Balboa Park Municipal Gym to area government workers eligible according to state and county guidelines, including those 65 and older.

Another 100 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered Wednesday to eligible homeless residents sheltering at the San Diego Convention Center as part of the Operation Shelter to Home program.

The city received an initial shipment of 1,200 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines this week. Mayor Todd Gloria is exploring additional city- owned locations as potential vaccination sites when more doses become available. The number of doses delivered directly to the city will depend on vaccine availability statewide.

San Diego County's fourth vaccination super station opened Tuesday at the Grossmont Center shopping mall in La Mesa, while a smaller distribution site opened in San Ysidro on the Southwestern College campus.

UC San Diego Health announced Tuesday that it will open another vaccination super station on its campus for qualifying UCSD Health patients, faculty and staff. The vaccination site will begin operating next Monday inside the UCSD's Recreation, Intramural and Athletic Complex.

Vaccination appointments can be made at The site also includes a map of where vaccines are being distributed.


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