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San Diego County COVID cases rise surrounding Christmas

Bracing for another spike in COVID cases, Christmas may be over, but health officials worry it's just the beginning for another surge in cases following the holiday.

SAN DIEGO — With over 3,000 new COVID-19 cases announced on Christmas, the holiday marked the 18th day in a row San Diego County had more than 2,000 new cases, and the six highest daily case counts were all last week. San Diego County public health officials reported 2,686 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday, Dec. 26 -- the 26th consecutive day with more than 1,000 cases.

"We are busier now than we were two days ago," said Dr. Jess Mandel. "Then two days ago, we were busier then three days before that this is something unlike anything we've seen."

Mandel is the UCSD Chief in the Pulmonary Division and Critical Care. Mandel got the COVID-19 vaccine and worked Christmas Eve and Christmas Day where he said the overwhelming ICU numbers had staff scrambling to fit in more people.

"We have had patients waiting in the emergency room for beds, longer than we wish they could,” Mandel said.

There has been a sharp rise in confirmed hospitalized patients. Over seven days, the county reported a 20% increase in confirmed ICU patients compared to over 30 days. ICU patients went up 145% to 355.

"The numbers keep going up, and I think the south county hospitals are feeling it more than we are at UCSD,” Mandel said.

County health officials warned before the holidays that 44% of the county's cumulative cases were reported after Thanksgiving.

"We do not want to see what happened after the Thanksgiving holiday happen after Christmas,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, Public Health officer for San Diego County.

Wooten said San Diego County is on pace to report another 600 deaths due to the virus before the end of January. Officials urge anyone who gathered or traveled for the holidays to get tested, whether or not they display symptoms.

"We'll be in a surge on top of a surge, where we are today on top of yet again another surge in the middle and latter part of January and February,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The 11-county Southern California region is still reporting zero available ICU beds.

"The scale of what we're saying in our lifetime is so unprecedented in our lifetime and it's very hard to communicate that -room after room of people who are incredibly sick all with the same thing,” Mandel said.

Newsom said the regional stay-at-home order he issued that was set to expire on Monday for all of Southern California has been extended.

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