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Rate Of COVID-19 Illness Decreases In San Diego Following ‘Roller Coaster’ July

A sign telling residents to social distance at an as a woman look at art from...

Photo by Alexander Nguyen

Above: A sign telling residents to social distance at an as a woman look at art from local artists at Balboa Park Palisades at the corner of Presidents Way and Pan American Road East on Aug. 1, 2020.

The COVID-19 case total in San Diego County has crossed 30,000, even as other indices appear to be improving.

County public health officials reported a total of 343 new cases Monday, raising the region's total to 30,226. No new deaths were reported, keeping that number at 565.

Of 6,536 tests the county recorded Monday, just over 5% of them returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average of positive tests down to 5.3%. The state's target is fewer than 8% of tests returning positive.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher described July as a "roller coaster" but said the end of the month showed promising trends, which he hopes will carry on into August and beyond.

The rate of the population testing positive has dropped to 118.2 per 100,000 people. The state's goal is to be below 100 per 100,000. A week ago that number was above 140 per 100,000.

Reported by Matt Hoffman

Additionally, the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 continues to drop, with 390 in regional hospitals including 124 in intensive care units — the fewest in several weeks.

The percentage of people testing positive for the illness who are contacted by a county contact tracer in the first 48 hours has increased from a dismal 9% in late July to more than 48% now. The county's target for this metric is more than 70%.

The only metric the county appears to be getting worse on is the spread of community outbreaks. An additional four outbreaks were reported Monday — two in businesses, one in a higher education setting and one in a government setting — raising the number of community outbreaks in the county in the past week to 39.

Of the 132 outbreaks reported since June 1, 48 of them have occurred in restaurant/bar settings, 27 in other businesses, nine in healthcare settings and eight in restaurants.

The county plans to open a new COVID-19 testing site in the Pacific Beach area today. The site will offer free testing on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Pacific Beach/Taylor Branch Library, 4275 Cass Street.

Appointments are required and can be made five days in advance by booking online at www.211sandiego.org or by calling 211.

Of the total positive cases, 2,599 — or 8.6% — required hospitalization and 656 — or 2.2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

According to county data, 57% of adult San Diego County residents have underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart and lung disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. These conditions put such people at higher risk for serious illness should they contract COVID-19.

Of the total hospitalized during the pandemic due to the illness, 71% have been 50 or older. The highest age group testing positive for the illness are those 20-29, and that group is also least likely to take precautionary measures to avoid spreading the illness, a county statement said.

"Some San Diegans think they're not going to get sick and therefore are not following the public health guidance," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "What they don't realize is that they could get infected and pass the virus to others who are vulnerable."

County residents ages 20-29 have accounted for 25.5% percent of COVID- 19 cases thus far, the highest of any age group, according to county data. The age group with the second highest number of infections — residents ages 30- 39 — represent 18.9% of the county's COVID-19 cases.

County Supervisors Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher said they would bring a plan for a safe reopening compliance team before the full Board of Supervisors at its meeting today. The team would supplement health order enforcement, including investigating egregious violations, outbreaks and conducting regular checks of the county's more than 7,500 food facilities.

New enforcement could include a compliance hotline for tips, additional staff for investigations and outbreaks and coordination with cities to send a team to conduct investigations.

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