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San Diego County hospitals are overwhelmed and Scripps Health CEO Chris Van Gorder last week told CBS8 the situation is "extremely serious”. The increase of COVID-19 hospitalizations as well as staffing shortages, local hospitals are being forced to preserve their resources for the seriously ill. 

"On Christmas Eve, we had 80 COVID patients in our hospitals," said Van Gorder. As of January 5, "We have 210." 

As of January 11, the County’s COVID hospitalizations had surpassed 1,000, with nearly 50,000 reported new cases. 

Additionally, with the high infection rate of the omicron variant, Van Gorder says that “about 15% of our workforce is out with COVID as well".

To help combat this influx in hospital visits, county health leaders are asking residents not to visit emergency departments to receive a COVID-19 test and to find alternative testing sites.

“Do not go to an emergency department just to get tested, and only go when you have symptoms that need emergency care,” said Cameron Kaiser, M.D., M.P.H., County deputy public health officer. “If you’re experiencing no COVID-19 symptoms, have mild illness or have not been exposed to someone who tested positive, go to one of the many testing locations available in the region.”

San Diego County has broken 3 new records in 10 days’ time. The first on Dec. 29 with 5,976 positive cases, then on Jan. 2 with 8,313, and again on Jan.7 with 19,009 positive cases. 

The county’s Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooter released a statement stating that while the county expected a post-holiday surge along with effects of the highly contagious omicron variant, “these numbers are unprecedented in this pandemic.”

“The virus is everywhere in our community,” Wooten said. “We must all step up now and re-dedicate ourselves to the precautions that we know work.”

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