A COVID-19 test swab. Courtesy county HHSA

San Diego County health officials reported 959 new COVID-19 infections Monday amid a surge in hospitalizations that have nearly tripled in a month’s time.

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported that 692 coronavirus patients were hospitalized as of Monday, with 180 of them being treated in intensive care units, up from 671 reported on Sunday, 636 on Saturday, and 580 last Wednesday and Thursday.

The county crossed 400 hospitalizations on Nov. 17, 500 on Nov. 23 and 600 last Friday.

The number of people with COVID-19 in area hospitals has nearly tripled from one month ago — 239 were hospitalized on Oct. 30.

Of the 82,043 cases logged in the county since the start of the pandemic, 4,635 — or 5.6% — have required hospitalization and 1,019 patients – – 1.2% — had to be admitted to an ICU.

The overall number of people hospitalized for any reason in the county has remained around 4,200 for a month, but the percentage of COVID-19 patients in region hospitals rose from 5.5% a month ago to 16% on Monday.

Monday marked the 20th consecutive day that more than 600 new cases have been reported and the 11th day that more than 900 new cases were reported – – including two days over the holiday weekend with more than 1,800 new infections.

The death toll remained unchanged Monday at 997.

According to county data, San Diego County is on a trajectory to double its number of cases in 38 days.

A total of 15,348 tests were reported Monday, with 6% returning positive, raising the 14-day average to 6.1%.

Seven community outbreaks were confirmed Monday, three in business settings, one in a restaurant setting, one in a faith-based setting, one in a healthcare setting and one in a grocery setting. Over the previous seven days, 79 community outbreaks were confirmed. A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

San Diego County fell deeper into the most restrictive purple tier of the state’s four-tiered reopening plan on Saturday, with an unadjusted 26.5 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. Even with an adjusted rate of 15.6 per 100,000 due to significant testing increases by local health authorities, that number far exceeds the strictest tier’s baseline of seven daily cases per 100,000.

The testing positivity percentage is 4.7%, keeping it just in the less restrictive, orange, tier for that metric.

The county’s health equity metric — which looks at the testing positivity for areas with the lowest healthy conditions — is 9.3% and is in the Purple Tier. This metric does not move counties to more restrictive tiers but is required to advance to a less restrictive tier.

— City News Service