A healthcare worker in protective gear treats a COVID-19 patient at the El Centro Regional Medical Center. REUTERS/Ariana Drehsler

San Diego County public health officials reported 3,524 new COVID-19 infections and 41 deaths from the virus Tuesday, as the county nears 200,000 total cases since the pandemic began.

Tuesday’s cases mark the 43rd consecutive day with more than 1,000 new diagnoses. It is also the 16th time 3,000-plus daily infections have been announced. More than 4,000 cases have been reported three times.

Of the 18,119 tests reported Tuesday, 19% returned positive, raising the 14-day rolling average to 13.8% from Monday’s 13.6%. The county and its health partners have administered more than 3 million tests since the pandemic began.

The county’s cumulative case count rose to 198,319, while the death toll increased to 1,898.

Hospitalizations resulting from the virus rose by 29 to a record 1,772, while the intensive care unit saw no new admissions and the occupied bed count dropped from a record 426 Monday to the second-highest total of 418 on Tuesday. A total of 33 staffed ICU beds remain in the county. Only 219 ICU beds are occupied by patients without COVID-19.

The number of total hospitalizations in San Diego County has dropped as non-COVID patients have left the beds. After four days of 80% of the region’s hospital beds being occupied, there are now 171 beds under that threshold.

According to the county’s COVID-19 doctrine, the final 20% of hospital beds are being reserved exclusively for patients with the pandemic virus. New patients beyond that ceiling, according to a plan developed by the county last year, could be turned away in some cases.

— City News Service