By County News Center
San Diego, CA–A record number of new COVID-19 cases have surged in San Diego county, according to County public health officials.
The record cases include 12,563 new cases reported for Sunday, 17,507 for Saturday, and 19,009 for Friday. The previous daily high in cases was 8,313 reported for Jan. 2.
The surge in new COVID infections comes as local hospitals are struggling with staffing amid hundreds of their employees contracting the virus and being unable to report to their shifts.
“We expected to see a surge after the holidays, especially with the arrival of the more transmissible Omicron variant, but these numbers are unprecedented in this pandemic,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., County public health officer. “The virus is everywhere in our community. We must all step up now and re-dedicate ourselves to the precautions that we know work.”
Wooten also said that there is a misconception about the Omicron variant being far less dangerous or deadly than prior strains of COVID-19.
“Hospitalizations are increasing amid this current surge and it’s important to understand that hospital admissions are a lagging indicator,” Wooten said. “We expect hospital admissions to increase even further in the coming weeks as people who are currently ill develop more severe symptoms.”
To help alleviate the strain on local hospitals and prepare them for the expected surge in admissions, County health officials recommend that only people with symptoms needing emergency care should go to a hospital emergency department.
At this time, COVID-19 testing should be reserved for those at higher risk of serious illness and people who need it the most. People should not go to an emergency department for testing with no or mild COVID symptoms.
The region’s health care providers offer to test to members who meet each systems’ criteria. Many neighborhood pharmacies offer same-day testing as do other locations. The County, which has about 10% of the region’s testing capacity, has a network of no-cost testing public sites that are both walk-up and can take appointments.