The number of people hospitalized with a coronavirus infection in San Diego County has risen to 286, according to the latest state data.

State officials had not updated their hospitalization numbers since Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday, when there were 213 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals. Tuesday's data also showed that 27 COVID patients are being treated in intensive care, an increase from 24 as of Thursday.

San Diego County has the second-highest total of COVID patients in California, behind Los Angeles County's 1,040.

The statewide total of coronavirus patients ballooned to 3,532, an increase of 242 from the previous day and 750 more than last Thursday's total, as the expected cold-weather surge in virus transmission continues.

Many patients entered the hospital for other reasons and discovered they had COVID-19 after a mandated test.

Local health officials are urging San Diegans to take precautions to avoid spreading respiratory illness this fall and winter, when the number of such cases typically increase. These include wearing a well-fitting, good- quality mask indoors or in crowded spaces, washing hands thoroughly and often, staying away from sick people and cleaning commonly touched surfaces.

"This is a wonderful time of year, and we want everyone to celebrate smartly and protect themselves, their family and community,'' said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. "Don't let flu, COVID-19 or other winter illnesses spoil your family reunions this holiday season.''

COVID-19 and flu vaccines are widely available across the region at pharmacies, medical centers and clinics. The two vaccines can be administered during the same visit. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency noted that the COVID-19 primary vaccine series and booster do not protect against the flu, and the flu vaccine does not protect people against COVID-19. Therefore, it is recommended that eligible San Diegans get vaccinated against both viruses.

A fully vaccinated person can still contract and transmit COVID, but health officials say the vaccines offer protection against developing severe symptoms that can result in hospitalization and even death.

A total of 3,034 COVID-19 cases were reported to the county in the most recent update, compared to 2,193 infections identified the previous week. The cumulative total from throughout the pandemic increased to 938,321.

An additional five deaths were reported since the last report, and the region's total death count climbed to 5,562.

The county health department reports COVID data every Thursday.

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