San Diego County surge in COVID-19 cases affecting local ERs

Posted at 12:17 PM, Dec 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-30 15:17:30-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – San Diego County coronavirus cases are surging, and with the rise in cases, many local hospitals are seeing an overflow of patients in their emergency rooms looking to get tested for COVID-19

Local health experts said more than half of the county’s hospitals are on diversion, which means they are so full they cannot accept additional patients.

Dr. Joshua McCabe, the Director of Emergency Services at Sharp Memorial Hospital, told ABC 10News the diversion plan is a common procedure to give medical staff time to catch up with the demand.

When it comes to Sharpe HealthCare facilities, McCabe said test positivity rate was 5-7 percent over a week ago. As of Dec. 29, Share HealthCare saw a 27.4 positivity rate.

Overall, the county is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases. More than 3,600 cases were reported on Dec. 29 -- the last time San Diego County saw similar numbers was in January.

McCabe said with previous variants of the virus, Sharp was seeing patients with more severe symptoms and those who needed intensive care.

Now, Sharp facilities are seeing patients enter ERs, but they are able to be seen and discharged.

“We do our best to discharge as many as we can or admit the patients that need to be admitted so we can remain open. It’s fair to say our emergency departments in San Diego County are severely impacted by omicron and by the wave of patients that we’re seeing from this pandemic,” McCabe said.

The delta variant remains the most common variant in San Diego County, with more than 17,000 cases reported since mid-April. Omicron has just 91 confirmed cases in the county, but the time period measured began on Dec. 3. There have been no deaths from omicron reported in the county and one hospitalization, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported.

City News Service contributed to this report