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By Miriam Raftery

December 11, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego County reported 2,040 cases on Dec. 9, as the availability of ICU beds (ICU capacity) in the Southern California region dropped to just 7.7%.  While San Diego still has just over 20% of ICU beds available, Orange and Imperial Counties are at or near capacity, meaning patients may be turned away or diverted to hospitals in adjacent counties, further stressing San Diego’s medical care system.

Nationwide, at least 200 hospitals are at full capacity and a third are nearly out of ICU beds, with over 90% of ICU beds occupied, CNN reported Dec. 10, based on data from the  US Department of Health and Human Services.

A database now available to the public now shows capacity of all hospitals in San Diego County. Although it does not list ICU beds, it does reveal that some hospitals are filling up. Sharp Hospital in Chula Vista has 93% of its adult inpatient beds in use (just 7% available); Palomar Medical Center has 91% in use, Sharp Grossmont Hospital and UCSD Medical Center each have 85% of all beds for adult inpatients occupied.

The regional stay-home order will remain in effect for at least three weeks or until the region’s ICU capacity is at or above 15%.

San Diego County had 68 community outbreaks over the past week, with 13 new community outbreaks confirmed on Dec. 9 alone. The newest outbreaks include six in business settings, three in faith-based locations, a TK-12 school, a construction setting, and a restaurant.

The County also reported a 14-day testing rate of less than 8% positives. On this metric, our County is faring far better than some.  Iowa’s testing positive rate has reached an astonishing 50 percent, the Atlantic reported recently.

San Diego County reported another 11 deaths on Dec. 9, bringing the total death toll locally to 1,114.

In some areas of the country that have not imposed steps such as mandatory masks or shutdowns to contain the virus, the results are far more dire. In North Dakota, 1 in every 800 people in the state have died of COVID-19, according to a report in Forbes.  Several other states have lost 1 of every 1,000 residents to the novel coronavirus.


Miriam Raftery, editor and founder of East County Magazine, has over 35 years of journalism experience. She has won more than 350 journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego Press Club, and the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Her honors include the Sol Price Award for responsible journalism and three James Julian awards for public interest reporting from SPJ’s San Diego chapter. She has received top honors for investigative journalism, multicultural reporting, coverage of immigrant and refugee issues, politics, breaking news and more. Thousands of her articles have appeared in national and regional publications.

East County Magazine gratefully acknowledges the Facebook Journalism Project for its COVID-19 Relief Fund grant to support our local news reporting including impacts on vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more: #FacebookJournalismProject and

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