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There have been 44 community outbreaks confirmed in the last seven days. File photo
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County reports 3,520 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

REGION — San Diego County public health officials have reported 3,520 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths, bringing the county’s totals to 168,020 cases and 1,592 deaths.

Sunday’s cases marked the 34th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new infections and the 25th overall with more than 2,000 new cases. It is the ninth time the 3,000-case mark has been crossed.

A record 4,478 cases were reported Friday.

Of 14,419 tests reported Sunday, 24% returned positive, bringing the 14-day average rolling average to 12.5%.

The County Communications Office Sunday reported 46 new hospitalizations and nine new intensive care admissions, bringing the total number of hospitalizations to 5,984 and the total number of ICU patients to 1,228.

As of Sunday, 376 COVID-19 patients were in ICU and ICU capacity throughout the county was at 19%, according to county health officials.

There have been 44 community outbreaks confirmed in the last seven days, with 178 cases associated with those outbreaks.

The total number of cases of the new variant, known as B.1.1.7, is four so far in San Diego County. The variant was first found in the U.S. on Tuesday in Colorado. The first San Diego case is in a man in his 30s with no history of travel, who first became symptomatic Dec. 27 and tested positive Dec. 29. He has been hospitalized and contact tracing was underway.

The additional three cases, reported by county health officials Thursday, were found in two men in their 40s and one in his 50s. Contact tracing shows two men did not travel outside of the county while the third case
has yet to be fully interviewed. None of the men had any known interaction with each other or the other confirmed case.

The three newly confirmed variant cases were initially identified by helix during diagnostic testing, then confirmed by whole-genome sequencing by Scripps Research. The four individuals who have tested positive for the B.1.1.7. strain lives in La Mesa, Mission Beach, Otay Mesa and the Carmel Mountain/Rancho Bernardo area.

Officials now believe the new strain is widespread in the community.

“We believe that many more cases of the B.1.1.7 strain will be confirmed in the coming days and weeks,” said Dr. Eric McDonald, medical director of the County Epidemiology and Immunizations Services branch. “This strain of the virus has been reported to be spread more easily in the U.K., and so it is, therefore, crucial that now more than ever before in this pandemic, we follow the public health orders and keep each other safe.”