SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego continues to see a drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Dr. Ghazala Sharieff is the chief medical officer for acute care and clinical excellence at Scripps Health. She said the numbers are encouraging, but the virus is still circulating.
"We're not out of the woods yet. We are still seeing deaths. Last Saturday, we had ten deaths, which is a lot of patients," said Dr. Sharieff.
During the peak of the latest surge on Jan. 18, Scripps Health had 355 patients in the hospital with COVID-19. Tuesday, that number is down to 185.
Sharp Healthcare had 460 COVID-19 patients last month, compared to 262 patients on Tuesday.
Hospitals are still expected to remain busier than average, though.
"It's nice to breathe a little sigh of relief here while we try to get back to normal business. There's a lot of patients that had to have their procedures canceled, postponed, delayed," Dr. Sharieff said. "We would love to get them in and get their health taken care of."
Sharieff is also concerned Superbowl parties could drive the numbers back up.
"Typically two weeks after a major event, holiday, we see an uptick in hospital admissions," she said. "So, we're kind of waiting with bated breath, hoping that does not happen."
The lifting of California's indoor mask mandate among the vaccinated is also a concern.
"It doesn't mean that we throw, everything that we just did, caution to the wind, just because our state has decided that it's safe. It really isn't yet," Sharieff said. "Look at the numbers. One hundred eighty-five patients doesn't mean that we are done yet."
With Presidents' Day weekend coming up, she believes another two weeks wearing masks would make a difference.
"We're not quite where we want to be yet, and I think the confusing thing for the public when people say Omicron is not that dangerous, and it's OK to get it, you just don't know," said Sharieff.
The number of staff out due to COVID is also dropping.
"Fifteen percent of our workforce was out at the peak. That's over 700 staff. We're down to three to four percent, said Sharieff.