The number of people hospitalized with a coronavirus infection in San Diego County exceeded 300 heading into the Fourth of July holiday, according to the latest state data.
Of the 308 patients hospitalized as of Saturday, 34 were being treated in intensive care, down one from Friday. There were 15 fewer hospital beds available, totaling 224.
Meanwhile, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency encouraged families to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 to counter inoculation rates that are lower than the general population for children ages 5-17.
According to HHSA data, 182,035 or 76% of the 239,401 San Diegans ages 12 through 17 have completed a primary vaccine series, while 114,748 or 36.9% of the 310,643 children between 5 and 11 years of age have received the primary vaccine series.
Of the 207,723 children 6 months through 4 years of age, only 3,323 or 1.6% are partially vaccinated. That percentage is expected to be lower because COVID-19 vaccines for the age group were only recently recommended, a county statement read.
Comparatively, 83.8% of the overall population eligible for COVID-19 vaccines have completed a primary vaccine series.
"COVID-19 vaccines are not only protecting the people who get them, but also those around them," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. "Children are not immune to COVID-19 and they can still develop serious complications. Parents should make sure their children get all the recommended doses of the vaccine."
When it comes to boosters, the numbers are even lower. A total of 161,561 San Diegans ages 12 through 17 are eligible for a booster, but only 64,147 or 39.7% have received one. Only 12.2% or 10,365 of local children ages 5 through 11 have received a booster, although 84,970 now qualify for the extra dose. In comparison, 57.3% of 2,394,907 eligible San Diegans has received a booster. Boosters have not been yet recommended for children 6 months through 4 years of age.
The HHSA reported 2,048 new COVID-19 infections and five additional deaths linked to the virus on Thursday, increasing the county's cumulative totals to 834,049 infections and 5,341 deaths.
San Diego County's case rate per 100,000 residents 12 years of age and older is 42.01 for people fully vaccinated and boosted, 25.06 for fully vaccinated people and 88.53 for San Diegans who are not fully vaccinated.
The county only reports COVID data on Mondays and Thursdays.
As COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continue to increase, leaders of Scripps Health urged caution during Independence Day celebrations.
"Lots of people will be gathering to celebrate this weekend, and we urge them to not let their guard down," said Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health president and CEO. "There's no doubt that COVID-19 is still very much with us. We've seen the impact grow since our last holiday, Memorial Day, and we certainly don't want to see that trend continue after July 4."
Van Gorder said Scripps' rate of patients testing positive for COVID- 19 increased by 51% for the 14-day period ending June 29, with 1,733 positive tests, compared to the 14-day period ending May 29 with 1,141 positive tests. Throughout Scripps' health-care system, 69% of its positive COVID-19 tests are breakthrough cases, of which 72% of patients had been boosted once and 16% had been boosted twice. The health system recorded eight COVID-related deaths this month, bringing its total to 1,335 since the pandemic began.
Scripps urged people to continue adhering to safety measures such as choosing outdoor settings where possible and wearing a mask at large indoor gatherings, washing hands regularly and not attending events if feeling sick.