COVID vaccination
Armando Hernandez receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a San Diego County community vaccination event at the Cross Border Xpress on Sept. 1. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

Doctors and health officials are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across San Diego County, and the latest set of subvariants is dominating the spread.

Experts say thanks to widespread vaccinations, COVID-19 is becoming less severe. But while the latest surge in cases isn’t resulting in as many deaths or hospitalizations as seen early on in the pandemic, the public should still be wary of one complication: long COVID.

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The county reported a seven-day average of 147 people hospitalized for COVID-19 last week — almost double what was reported in July. It has the second-highest number of hospitalizations among all California counties behind Los Angeles, according to state data

Deaths have remained low, with 31 people in San Diego confirmed to have died from the virus since July. 

Subvariants prefixed with “XBB” are mutations from the 2021 Omicron variant, and have been spreading in the county and throughout the U.S. since early this year. Wastewater sampling data shows that another variant, EG.5, is beginning to spread locally, too.

Older populations remain among the most vulnerable to hospitalization and death, especially those over age 60, so doctors are advising young people to test themselves if they feel any symptoms and to stay home if they’re sick. 

Dr. Davey Smith, chief of infectious diseases and global public health at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, advised that the public think “one step beyond ourselves” that would help prevent death and hospitalizations.

“It’s the young, healthy person who’s gonna do just fine with it,” Smith said. “It’s when they spread it to grandma or to the older coworker, or to even a patient in the hospital. That’s the dangerous part.”

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