The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency is reporting a record-high number of new COVID-19 deaths. The 62 deaths reported Thursday well surpass the previous single-day record of 39 deaths reported on Dec. 22.
Meanwhile, whole genome sequencing has detected three new cases of the United Kingdom variant of COVID-19, also known as B.1.1.7., beyond Wednesday’s report.
The three newly-confirmed variant cases reported were initially identified by Helix during diagnostic testing, then confirmed by whole genome sequencing by Scripps Research.
The new cases of the UK strain were found in men, two 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.
A household contact of the first local B.1.1.7. strain case reported yesterday has been hospitalized for COVID-19, with whole genome sequencing pending.
The discovery of the additional cases leads County Health Officials to believe that the new strain of the virus is widespread in the community. The four individuals who have tested positive for the B.1.1.7. strain live in La Mesa, Mission Beach, Otay Mesa and the Carmel Mountain/Rancho Bernardo area.
“We believe that many more cases of the B.1.1.7. strain will be confirmed in the coming days and weeks,” said Eric McDonald, M.D., M.P.H., 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 UK 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.”
Wash your hands
Wear a mask
Keep your distance from others and leave your household only for essential activities
If you’re sick, get tested, and then stay home and isolate yourself
For more information, visit the county’s coronavirus website.