An employee at the San Diego County Psychiatric Hospital gets her first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Courtesy County News Center

San Diego County public health officials reported 1,751 new COVID-19 infections Monday — marking the 28th day with more than 1,000 cases — as leaders around the region await Gov. Gavin Newsom’s likely formal extension of a regional stay-at-home order.

That order, which covers an 11-county Southern California area, took effect at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 6 and was set to expire Monday. But with the region’s intensive-care unit capacity at hospitals still effectively listed at 0%, Newsom said the order is all but certain to be extended.

A formal announcement had been expected Monday, but was delayed until Tuesday. Newsom said the state was still compiling hospital and case data, and completing hospital-demand projections for the next four weeks.

He noted, however, that based upon large number of people who appeared to have ignored warnings against travel over the Christmas holiday — and those who will likely so do over the upcoming New Year’s holiday, the state is bracing for a “surge on top of a surge, arguably on top of, again, another surge.”

The 1,751 new COVID-19 cases reported Monday in San Diego County marked the first day since Dec. 14 that fewer than 2,000 new infections were reported. The county has a cumulative case count of 147,530. Another two deaths were also reported Monday, raising the death toll to 1,404.

The total number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients increased by 68 to 1,527, with 393 in ICUs, up by 14 — both records.

The county is still reporting 17% of its existing ICU beds as available, but Supervisor Nathan Fletcher reported last week that many of those beds lack staffing. The real number of available, staffed beds is likely much lower.

COVID-19 patients make up around two-thirds of all ICU patients in the region, with just 224 non-COVID patients compared to the 393 coronavirus- related patients in the ICU.

The county has reported a 136% increase in COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the past 30 days and a 125% increase in ICU patients in the same time period.

A total of seven coronavirus testing sites throughout San Diego County were temporarily closed Monday due to a powerful storm that doused the region: the Port of Entry and Mexican Consulate in San Ysidro, Valley Center Elementary, Oceanside School District headquarters, Sycuan Market in El Cajon, the South Chula Vista Branch Library and Aquatica San Diego in Chula Vista.

Of 18,972 tests reported Monday, 9% returned positive, bringing the 14- day average down to 10.1%. Sunday saw a record positivity rate of 27%.

Sunday was the 19th day with more than 2,000 new cases reported; the 3,000 mark has been crossed five times.

No new community outbreaks were confirmed on Monday, but there have been 59 confirmed outbreaks in the last seven days and 245 cases associated with those outbreaks. 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.

Though county officials advised residents to avoid holiday gatherings, many apparently didn’t take that advice. Anyone who participated in a gathering is being urged to get tested, as well as those who recently returned from traveling, anyone who has symptoms and those at higher risk for COVID-19, whether or not they display symptoms.

— City News Service

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