indoor mask
A shopper wearing a face mask is pictured at a Dollar Tree store. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Local health officials Wednesday urged San Diegans to take precautions to avoid spreading respiratory illness over the long holiday weekend.

These include wearing a well-fitting, good-quality mask indoors or in crowded spaces, washing hands thoroughly and often, staying away from sick people and cleaning commonly touched surfaces.

“This is a wonderful time of year, and we want everyone to celebrate smartly and protect themselves, their family and community,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. “Don’t let flu, COVID-19, or other winter illnesses spoil your family reunions this holiday season.”

COVID-19 and flu vaccines are widely available across the region at pharmacies, medical centers and clinics. The two vaccines can be administered during the same visit. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency noted that the COVID-19 primary vaccine series and booster do not protect against the flu, and the flu vaccine does not protect people against COVID-19. Therefore, it is recommended that eligible San Diegans get vaccinated against both viruses.

A fully vaccinated person can still contract and transmit COVID, but health officials say the vaccines offer protection against developing severe symptoms that can result in hospitalization and even death.

A total of 3,034 COVID-19 cases were reported to the county in the past seven days, compared to 2,193 infections identified the previous week. The cumulative total from throughout the pandemic increased to 938,321.

An additional five deaths were reported since the last report, and the region’s total death count climbed to 5,562.

The number of people hospitalized with a coronavirus infection in San Diego County declined by 19 to 205, according to the latest state data released Wednesday.

Of those patients, 20 were being treated in intensive care, down from 26 the previous day.

Close to 2.69 million — or 80.4% — of eligible San Diegans have received the primary series of one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines. A total of 1,500,106 — or 60.2% — of 2,492,580 eligible San Diegans have received booster shots.

Influenza cases also remain high, with 2,353 reported in the past week, compared to 2,387 the previous week. Additionally, three people died from complications related to influenza, increasing the season’s total to five. All had underlying medical conditions and none of the newly reported deaths were co-infected with COVID-19.

A total of 10,231 flu cases have been reported this season, compared to 357 at the same time last season and a prior 5-year average of 381 during the same week.

City News Service contributed to this article.