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 people in San Diego County hospitalized with COVID-19 decreased by six to 143, according to the latest state data released Saturday.

The number of those patients being treated in intensive care remained at 22. There were 237 ICU beds available in the county, an increase of 10 from Friday.

As flu season begins to hit the San Diego region, county public health officials encouraged all residents to get vaccinated for influenza and COVID-19, preferably at the same time.

Respiratory illnesses historically increase during fall and winter as many people move activities and gatherings indoors. San Diego’s Patrick Henry High School had around half its students out sick with a respiratory illness as of Friday.

Although the vaccines do not prevent the transmission of COVID, data gathered by the county Health and Human Services Agency show that those who are vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 are substantially less likely to die of complications from the illness.

“Vaccination remains the best way to prevent severe outcomes and death from COVID-19,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, county deputy public health officer. “We are especially encouraging those eligible to get the new bivalent booster, as it is specifically designed to protect individuals from the virus variants currently circulating in our community. These variants and their relatives are expected to be with us into the holidays.”

According to the county’s data, in the first seven months of this year, from Jan. 1 to July 31, 912 San Diegans died of COVID-19. Of those 912, 498 individuals did not complete the primary series of any of the available COVID-19 vaccines. A total of 42 people had received only a single dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and the other 456 individuals had received no vaccine doses of any kind. Individuals considered not vaccinated represented 54% of total deaths.

Of the remaining deaths, 281 completed the primary series and 133 also had an additional booster dose. A total of 80.4% of the 3.3 million San Diegans six months of age or older have completed the primary series. Two shots of these vaccines are needed to complete the primary series and be considered fully vaccinated.

For the period between Aug. 14 and Sept. 10 of this year, the death rate for San Diegans who did not complete the primary vaccine series was 0.94 per 1 million residents. That death rate is five times higher than those who completed the primary series and received a booster — 0.18 per 1 million county residents.

A total of 1,473,096, or 59.8%, of 2,465,357 eligible San Diegans have received boosters for COVID. The county reported 1,855 new cases and nine deaths since the last report, increasing the cumulative totals to 926,364 infections and 5,507 deaths. The cases reported in the past week were slightly lower compared to the 2,284 infections identified the previous week.

The county health department reports COVID-19 data once a week — on Thursday nights.

— City News Service



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Ellen Bullock