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 increased by 10 to 388, according to the latest state figures released Saturday.

Of those patients, 44 were being treated in intensive care, unchanged from the previous day’s total. There were 221 available ICU beds Saturday, the same number as Friday.

San Diego County has the second-highest number of hospitalized coronavirus patients in the state, behind Los Angeles County’s 1,024.

Health officials were preparing 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 and treatment site in Escondido was scheduled to close this week and the one in El Cajon was scheduled to close the following week, both because demand has become so low at the sites, according to a county statement.

The 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 health care 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 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.”

Local COVID-19 cases decreased slightly this week. However, health officials were still monitoring wastewater testing and say they are seeing increasing levels of the virus, which may be a sign of a possible increase in cases in the near future. 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 with the virus in the past week. Of those, 17 were 65 or older and 14 had been vaccinated. Most people who die with COVID-19 are elderly or have an underlying health condition.

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 the county department of Health and Human Services 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