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A coronavirus patient being treated
A medical staff member treats a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease COVID-19 in the Intensive Care Unit at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The number of COVID-positive patients in San Diego County hospitals decreased by 20 to 441, according to the latest state figures released Saturday.

Of those patients, 46 were being treated in intensive care, down five from a day earlier.

There were 220 available ICU beds Saturday, down four from Friday.

San Diego County has the second-highest number of coronavirus patients in the state, behind Los Angeles County’s 1,202.

Meanwhile, the number of new COVID-19 cases remained fairly steady this week, but county officials warned that an influx from holiday gatherings was likely in the coming days.

“It’s never been more important to get tested if you feel COVID-19 symptoms and to get the bivalent booster vaccination if you haven’t,” county Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. “It’s still less than two weeks from Christmas and we don’t know what New Year’s celebrations could bring. So, take care of yourself and get tested if you feel sick. If you are not ill, get boosted to stay healthy.”

Wooten reminded San Diegans to take caution over the winter months during indoor gatherings, including masking, washing hands often, staying home when sick, and home testing.

COVID-19 vaccines, including bivalent boosters, and flu vaccines were widely available at local medical providers and pharmacies. The county continues to offer vaccinations throughout the region at its vaccination sites. Check online for the days and hours sites will be open.

The COVID vaccines do not necessarily prevent people from contracting or transmitting the virus, but health officials say they offer protections against serious symptoms and possible death.

In the past week, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported 21 additional COVID deaths and 4,714 new infections — compared to 15 deaths and 4,537 the week prior. Thursday’s data increased the county’s cumulative coronavirus totals to 967,078 cases and 5,662 deaths.

According to an HHSA report, 80.5% of eligible San Diegans have received their two-shot primary vaccinations, and 21% of all eligible San Diego residents 5 years and older have received the new bivalent booster.

Flu numbers are on a downward trend, with one additional death and 643 cases reported in the past week, compared to two deaths and 906 cases the previous week. The country’s cumulative total increased to 30 deaths and 20,030 infections — compared to 1,253 at the same time last season and a 3,144 prior 5-year average during the same week.

–City News Service

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Ellen Bullock