A woman stretches near a warning sign on the beach as new stay-at-home orders begin in Southern California during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Oceanside, California, U.S., December 7, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake

San Diego County public health officials reported 2,604 COVID-19 infections and 22 deaths Thursday as regional ICU capacity dropped to zero.

Thursday marks the third-highest daily total cases, after Friday’s 2,867 and Wednesday’s 2,807. Thursday marks the 17th consecutive day with more than 1,000 cases and the 10th day overall with more than 2,000 new cases.

The county’s cumulative case total has risen to 116,852 and the death toll has risen to 1,239.

A jump of 43 hospitalizations set a record with 1,186 COVID-19- positive patients hospitalized locally. An additional 295 COVID-19 patients are in ICUs.

San Diego County’s hospitals have 16% of their ICU beds available, unchanged from Wednesday. However, the state estimates the entire Southern California region’s ICU beds are essentially entirely full.

“Hospitals and healthcare workers continue to be stretched to the limit, as we continue to surge beyond even what we anticipated. And we’re not even through the holidays yet,” said Adam Blackstone, a spokesman for the Hospital Association of Southern California.

In San Bernardino County, where all available ICU space has been taken, newly admitted patients at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center were lined up in beds in corridors waiting for care, spokeswoman Justine Rodriguez told Reuters.

In the San Joaquin Valley, 0.7% of ICU beds are available. The Greater Sacramento region has 11.3% of ICU beds available and the Bay Area 13.1%.

Only Northern California remains outside of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order with 25.8% of ICU beds available. That order applies to regions with fewer than 15% ICU beds remaining.

San Diego County has seen a 215% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past 30 days and a 144% increase in ICU patients in the same time frame.

The previous peak in hospitalizations, in mid-July, topped out at about 400 patients.

Eight new community outbreaks were reported Thursday, with 38 in the last week. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

Updated at 7:50 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020

— City News Service

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