San Diego County Health officials have confirmed at least four cases of the United Kingdom variant of COVID-19 detected in San Diego County. Infectious disease experts say the variant appears to be wide-spread and more cases are expected.
In total four men from La Mesa, Mission Beach, Otay Mesa, and the Carmel Mountain/ Rancho Bernardo area were found to have the new COVID-19 strain. All patients are men: one in his 30s, two in their 40s and one in his 50s.
The new variant comes as hospitals are dealing with busy intensive care units. The ICU capacity for the Southern California region remains at zero percent.
"Even though the hospitals are burning down, metaphorically, America doesn't seem to be following the basic public health interventions that we could do to slow the spread of this and to lessen its impact," said registered nurse Kelly McGrath.
McGrath is a surgical ICU nurse at Sharp Grossmont, she said hospitals are at capacity and staff is working hard to do their best with the resources and staffing at hand.
"We have these long-term patients that just don't get off the ventilator they're on, they have COVID, they're severely sick and they are on there for a month or more," she explained.
While McGrath looks forward to everyone getting the COVID-19 vaccine, she said she proudly got her vaccine despite being six months pregnant.
"There's the fact that coronavirus is much deadlier and much more likely to lead to major complications in pregnant women who get it," McGrath said.
Preliminary data shows the vaccine protects against this new COVID strain, which is why many doctors and nurses are still encouraging people to get the vaccine.
County leaders said none of those variant cases are connected, nor did they involve travel history, leading them to believe there are other undetected cases out there.