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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

San Diego County health officials provide somber COVID-19 update as deaths reach 1,000

There were 1,217 new cases and 21,701 tests reported on Wednesday bringing the county's total to 84,638 cases overall.

San Diego County health officials gave an update on COVID-19 on Wednesday after they reported 1,378 new COVID-19 infections and 22 deaths Tuesday that brought the total deaths reported to 1,000.

The somber update focused on the 1,000 COVID-19 death milestone and the lives lost.

There were 1,217 new cases and 21,701 tests reported on Wednesday bringing the county's total to 84,638 cases overall.

Christopher Howard, President, and CEO, Sharp HealthCare joined the county officials and spoke at the update on Wednesday. 

“We have 184 adult ICU beds in action today. We have 25 beds left - in the midst of what we believe over the next 30-days will be the most monumental surge of this virus that we have experienced to date'" Howard said. "Everything we are experiencing now is what we feared we would experience back in May.”

November had 244 confirmed community outbreaks reported which was the highest month on record. The second-highest month of community outbreaks was October with 134.

On Wednesday, health officials reported 18 new community outbreaks, 6 in faith-based agencies, 4 each in retail and business environments, and 1 each in grocery, government, school, and daycare.

"We would like to think that we are past the greatest part of this challenge with vaccines on the horizon, but we are just at the beginning," Howard added 

Credit: SD County
COVID-19 community outbreaks in San Diego County - March - Nov 2020

There are approximately 800 intensive-care unit beds county-wide across all hospital systems, according to Howard, 560 of which were occupied by the end of November.

"That left just 260 beds region-wide," he said, "that is continuing to decline precipitously on a daily basis."

Health officials also caution that these beds are needed not only by COVID-19 patients, but also others who may have postponed critical procedures and surgeries earlier on in the pandemic.

"Many of those conditions today are no longer elective and are necessary, and the question is: to what degree are they necessary?" Howard said.

Wednesday also marked the 22nd consecutive day more than 600 new cases have been reported -- including two days over the Thanksgiving weekend with more than 1,800 new infections.

Watch the full county update from Wednesday, Dec 2: 

San Diego County fell deeper into the most restrictive purple tier of the state's four-tiered reopening plan on Tuesday, with an unadjusted 30.5 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. Even with an adjusted rate of 15.3 per 100,000 due to significant testing increases by local health authorities, that number far exceeds the strictest tier's baseline of seven daily cases per 100,000.

The testing positivity percentage is 2.3%, keeping it in the orange tier for that metric. Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, advised people who traveled or hosted family and friends over the Thanksgiving weekend to get tested.

"By getting tested, people will know whether they have contracted COVID-19 and prevent spreading the virus to others," she said. "People should also wear a face covering, maintain social distance, avoid crowds and monitor for symptoms."