A nurse wearing personal protective equipment. Photo courtesy County News Center

San Diego County reported 10,198 new COVID-19 infections and 20 deaths Tuesday, as an “unprecedented” rate of cases and hospitalizations continue to roll in, according to the Health and Human Services Agency.

Tuesday’s data increased the county’s cumulative coronavirus totals to 535,924 cases and 4,520 deaths since the pandemic began.

COVID-related hospitalizations in San Diego County increased by 73 to 1,061 on Tuesday, which follows a record-setting weekend where hospitals struggled to keep up. Hospitalizations have increased at a steeper rate than when the county reached its peak — 1,725 on Jan. 11, 2021, according to the latest state figures.

Of the hospitalized patients reported Tuesday, 166 were in intensive care, down two from the previous day. The number of available ICU beds increased by four to 187.

According to state data, COVID-19 hospitalizations have more than tripled in the past 30 days, from 325 to 1,061.

Some COVID-positive patients may have been hospitalized for other reasons and had their COVID status discovered by hospital-mandated tests.

To help alleviate the strain on local hospitals and prepare them for the expected surge in admissions, local health officials recommend that only people needing emergency care should go to a hospital emergency department.

Additionally, 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, HHSA reccommended.

A total of 31,099 tests were reported Tuesday, and the seven-day average positivity rate was 27.9%, up from 27.3% on Monday.

City News Service contributed to this article.

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