A coronavirus patient being treated
A medical staff member treats a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease COVID-19 in the Intensive Care Unit at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The number of COVID-positive patients in San Diego County hospitals has increased by 17 people to 1,309, according to the latest state data released Sunday.

Of those patients, 211 were in intensive care, up four from Saturday.

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

The number of available ICU beds increased by 16 to 165 on Sunday.

San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency reported 11,235 new COVID-19 cases and seven additional deaths associated with the virus on Friday. Those numbers brought the county’s cumulative totals to 639,139 cases and 4,566 deaths since the pandemic began.

The county does not report COVID data on weekends.

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

Last week, the federal government rolled out a program that allows every residential household in the United States to order up to four at-home COVID-19 test kits free of charge. Tests can be ordered online at COVIDtests.gov. Those ordering the test kits need only provide a name and address. No identification, credit card or health insurance information is required.

To date, 959,697 San Diegans have received vaccine booster shots. The CDC recommends a Pfizer or Moderna booster shot five months after the second dose. A Johnson & Johnson booster is recommended two months after the second dose. Pfizer boosters have been approved for everyone 12 years and older. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters are only available for adults 18 years and older.

More than 2.83 million San Diegans — around 90% of those eligible — have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 2.5 million — or 79.5% — are fully vaccinated.

There were 75,673 new tests reported Friday, and the seven-day average positivity rate was 27.5%, down from 29.3% on Tuesday. The county reports this figure on Tuesdays and Fridays.

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