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Hospitalizations in San Diego County continue to decline as the number drops by three people to 991, according to recent figures. 

San Diego County health officials report six fewer people in the intensive care unit (ICU) compared to Saturday, bringing the total number to 182. As of Sunday, the total number of available ICU beds increased by eight to 161. 

The county Health and Human Services Agency warned that some patients who were admitted for other reasons discovered their COVID-19 status through hospital-mandated tests. 

The county’s cumulative total of COVID-19 infections is reported at 708,770 and 4,786 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. As of Friday, a total of 2,736 infections and 29 deaths caused by the virus were recorded. 

Officials say that hospitalizations and deaths are considered a lagging factor, so the above-average death report may be a result of the Omicron spike in December and January. They warn that actual case counts may be higher due to the increasing popularity and availability of home antigen tests, results of which are not reported to the county.

Friday's seven-day average positivity rate is 17.1 percent, which is down from 19.8 percent on Tuesday.

"There is a common misconception that the Omicron variant is not as deadly as prior strains of COVID-19,'' said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. "The latest data show that since the Omicron variant was first identified, COVID-19 deaths are on the rise, both here in San Diego and across the country.

"While you can still get COVID-19 despite being vaccinated and boosted, the vaccine keeps most people out of the hospital and reduces the risk of virus-related deaths,'' she said.

Nearly 2.88 million, or 91.4 percent, of San Diego County residents age 5 and older are at least partially vaccinated and more than 2.53 million, or 80.4 percent, are fully vaccinated. A total of 1,072,823 (51.8%) of San Diego County residents who are fully vaccinated have received a booster shot, according to the HHSA. Boosters are currently available for everyone 12 years and older.

There are over 400 vaccination sites including pharmacies, medical providers, clinics, and county locations. Appointments can be made and sites can be found by calling 833-422-4255 or visiting the MyTurn or SanDiegoCounty.Gov websites.

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