Coronavirus testing at San Diego State University. Courtesy f the university

San Diego County public health officials Thursday reported 2,259 new COVID-19 infections, the 24th consecutive day with more than 1,000 cases.

There were 32 deaths from the virus reported, 29 among people with underlying medical conditions and one who did not. Medical histories on the two other decedents remain pending.

The deaths occurred between Dec. 16 and Wednesday.

County officials said the ages of the 17 men and 15 women who died range from mid-40s to late 90s.

Thursday was the 17th day with more than 2,000 new cases. The five highest daily case counts have all occurred in the past week.

Another 39 people were also hospitalized, according to Thursday’s data, and another eight sent to intensive care units.

The county’s cumulative cases increased to 136,955 and the death toll to 1,382.

Nine new community outbreaks were also confirmed on Wednesday, four in business settings, two in hotel/resort/spa settings, one in a health care setting, one in a government setting and one in a restaurant/bar setting. There have been 45 confirmed outbreaks over the past seven days.

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.

County COVID-19 testing sites will be open on Christmas at University of San Diego, Cal State University San Marcos and the Tubman Chavez Community Center. The sites will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

A complete list of sites, how to make appointments and hours can be found at www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/community_epidemio logy/dc/2019-nCoV/testing/testing-schedule.html.

Though county officials advised residents to avoid holiday gatherings, anyone who participated in a gathering was urged to get tested, as well as people who recently returned from travel, people with any symptoms, and people at higher risk for COVID-19, whether or not they display symptoms.

In advising against holiday gatherings, San Diego County Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Greg Cox pointed to a massive uptick in cases after Thanksgiving — including the region’s highest daily total coming three weeks after the holiday with 3,611 cases reported last Friday.

“We cannot ignore the reality that we are in a bad place right now,” Cox said. “We’re making a special plea to avoid large gatherings with those outside your immediate family. This one time, this one year.”

If people have already traveled they should be extra cautious about spreading the virus, Cox said

According to Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, 44.1% of the county’s cumulative cases have been reported after Thanksgiving. San Diego County is on pace to report another 600 deaths due to the virus before the end of January, she said.

“We don’t want to see what happened after Thanksgiving happen again,” Wooten said. “We must continue to stay apart to get the spread of the virus under control. If we don’t, cases, hospitalizations and deaths will continue to soar.”

The 11-county Southern California region is still reporting zero available ICU beds. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday the regional stay-at-home order he issued for all of Southern California will almost assuredly be extended beyond next week’s expiration date.

Current stay-at-home orders took effect at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 6, and were originally set to end on Monday. Newsom did not give an indication of when a decision on extending the orders will be made or much longer they will remain in place.

— City News Service