COVID-19 hospitalizations
Medical staff treat a coronavirus patient in the isolation room of an intensive care unit on January. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

San Diego County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations increased by one to 116 as of Saturday, the state reported.

The number of those patients in intensive care increased by two to 29, while available ICU beds decreased by nine to 222.

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported 373 new COVID-19 infections and five additional virus-related deaths on Friday, bringing its cumulative totals to 752,705 cases and 5,215 deaths since the pandemic began.

The county does not report cases and deaths on the weekends.

Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, has tweeted that the incoming wave of BA.2 variant cases could be cause for alarm, as cases in China have spiked and in the United States, the test positivity rates have increased to 3.5% from 2.8%. In San Diego County, that positivity rate is 3.2%, according to HHSA numbers.

Close to 2.96 million San Diegans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccinate dose, or around 94% of those eligible. Nearly 2.6 million, or 82.6% of those eligible, are fully vaccinated. A total of 1,221,004 booster shots have been administered.

The county recently began modifying its COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts to better reach San Diegans who struggle with accessing these services. The focus includes providing resources at public health centers and through mobile services, including two Live Well on Wheels buses and a bookmobile, which has been repurposed as a mobile vaccine clinic.

This shift comes as the majority of COVID vaccinations and tests in the region are now administered through pharmacies, medical offices and hospitals. About 10% of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are being administered through the county.

“We have seen low demand at several of our existing testing and vaccination sites and are therefore shifting our efforts to more of the underserved safety net approach,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. “The county remains committed to providing no-cost vaccinations and testing across the region but recognize that most people now get these services elsewhere.”

Changes in the testing process have also come to the seven state- funded COVID-19 testing sites the county organizes. Individuals will now initially be administered an antigen test and wait about 15 minutes for the results to come back. If the results of the antigen test are positive, the individual is given a confirmatory PCR test, with results expected back within one day. In the meantime, they are advised to follow isolation protocol.

The seven locations across the county that are offering the no-cost antigen/PCR testing process are:

— North Coastal Live Well Center, 3708 Ocean Ranch Blvd., Oceanside;

— Kimball Senior Center, 1221 D Ave., National City;

— Former Boys & Girls Club, 1301 Oleander Ave., Chula Vista;

— Assessor Recorder County Clerk Building, 200 S. Magnolia Ave., El Cajon;

— North Inland Live Well Center, 649 W. Mission Ave., Escondido;

— Imperial Beach Sports Park Recreation Center, 425 Imperial Beach Blvd., Imperial Beach; and

— Former USD Electronics Recycling Center, 5330 Linda Vista Road, San Diego.

More information about appointments and walk-ups is available at coronavirus-sd.com.

— City News Service, Inc.