Drive-in coronavirus testing center
San Diego County’s drive-in coronavirus testing center at SDCCU Stadium. Courtesy OnScene.TV

County health officials are preparing Friday for the closure of several state COVID-19 testing and treatment sites in San Diego County, scheduled by the end of February.

The state-supported testing/treatment site in Escondido is scheduled to close this week and the one in El Cajon is scheduled to close the following week, both because demand has become so low at the sites, according to a county statement.

California Department of Public Health closed its National City testing site last week for the same reasons. San Diegans can still get tested at three county-contracted sites, local pharmacies and their healthcare providers, as well as at the four remaining local state sites until they close Feb. 25.

People can also get free COVID-19 home tests at the county’s six Public Health Centers, many local libraries — check with your library to see if they have them — and from the federal government by mail.

“We want all San Diegans to know that there are lots of options to get tests, be tested, get treatment, and get vaccinated, no matter where you are in the county,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. “If you feel symptoms and want to get tested for COVID-19 and find treatment, if you are positive, or if you just want to have COVID-19 home tests available as a precaution, access is available and you have options.”

COVID-19 cases decreased slightly this week. However, health officials are still monitoring wastewater testing and say they are seeing increasing levels of the virus, which may be a sign of a possible surge in cases. Flu cases and Respiratory Syncytial Virus infections both continue to decline.

A total of 3,344 COVID-19 cases were reported to the county in the past seven days, compared to 4,684 the week prior. The cumulative number of cases is now 970,479.

Additionally, 21 San Diegans died of the virus in the past week. Of those, 17 were 65 or older and 14 had been vaccinated.

The number of COVID-positive patients in San Diego County hospitals has decreased by 37 to 378, according to the latest state figures.

Of those patients hospitalized as of Friday, 44 were being treated in intensive care, up three from a day earlier.

There were 221 available ICU beds Friday, down 16 from Thursday.

San Diego Count has the second-highest number of coronavirus patients in the state, behind Los Angeles County’s 1,053.

COVID-19 vaccines, including bivalent boosters, and flu vaccines were widely available at local medical providers and pharmacies. The county continues to offer vaccinations throughout the region at its vaccination sites. Check online for the days and hours sites will be open.

The COVID vaccines do not necessarily prevent people from contracting or transmitting the virus, but health officials say they offer protections against serious symptoms and possible death.

According to an HHSA report, 80.5% of eligible San Diegans have received their two-shot primary vaccinations, and 21.6% of all eligible San Diego residents 5 years and older have received the new bivalent booster.

Flu numbers are on a downward trend, with three additional deaths and 338 cases reported in the past week, compared to one death and 646 cases the previous week. The county’s cumulative total increased to 33 deaths and 20,379 infections — compared to 1,389 at the same time last season and a 4,317 prior 5-year average during the same week.

–City News Service