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San Diego County Reports 290 COVID-19 Cases, Three Deaths

A man with a stroller on Aug. 1, 2020, walks by a Balboa Park health and safe...

Photo by Alexander Nguyen

Above: A man with a stroller on Aug. 1, 2020, walks by a Balboa Park health and safety guidelines sign design to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

San Diego County health officials have reported 290 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths, among the lowest numbers in the past month.

The cases reported Tuesday raise the county's total caseload to 30,516 and the number of fatalities to 568. Officials estimate that more than 23,900 people have recovered from the virus.

One caveat to those relatively low numbers is the number of tests the county recorded Tuesday is the fewest in more than a month, with just 4,168 reported. Of those, 7% returned positive — above the county's rolling 14-day average of 5.4%.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 Tuesday to approve a plan that allows a 22-member "safe reopening compliance team" to crack down on businesses refusing to follow the county's public health order.

The county allocated $1.8 million to pay for the extra staff for six months.

RELATED: Del Mar Steps Up COVID-19 Enforcement In Pilot Program

The team would focus on three types of violators, starting with the most blatant cases first — such as those that fail to avoid mass gatherings. The next level of enforcement would focus on businesses or groups that have experienced community outbreaks — when three or more people from different households contract COVID-19 from one location.

Lastly, the team will check on less serious violations reported to them by concerned individuals, including businesses that are reportedly operating without social distancing protocols or mask wearing.

A compliance call center has been established so county residents can submit complaints of violations. It can be reached at 858-694-2900.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher on Monday 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 114.9 per 100,000 people. The state's goal is to be below 100 per 100,000.

Additionally, the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 continues to drop, with 381 in regional hospitals including 120 in intensive care units — the fewest in more than a month.

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 60% 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. One additional outbreak was reported Tuesday, bringing the number of community outbreaks in the county in the past week to 32.

Of the 133 outbreaks reported since June 1, 48 have occurred in restaurant or bar settings, 27 in other businesses, nine in health care settings and eight in restaurants.

Of the total positive cases, 2,627 — or 8.6% — required hospitalization and 662 — 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, 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.

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