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San Diego Records 348 New COVID-19 Cases As State Notes Issues With Private Labs And Reporting

Vials of coronavirus test samples at the University of San Diego testing site...

Photo by Andi Dukleth

Above: Vials of coronavirus test samples at the University of San Diego testing site on July 15, 2020.

San Diego County health officials have reported 348 new COVID-19 cases and 10 additional deaths, raising the county's totals to 30,864 cases and 578 deaths.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Wednesday that California had reported issues with private labs and reporting, meaning some additional cases might be retroactively added to both local and statewide case totals in coming weeks.

The county reported 6,981 tests Wednesday, 5% of which returned positive. The 14-day running average is 5.3% and the county has recorded 631,968 total tests since March.

Of the total positive cases, 2,655 — or 8.6% — required hospitalization and 666 — or 2.2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit. Officials estimate more than 24,000 people have recovered from the virus.

The rate of the population testing positive has dropped to 105.7 per 100,000 people. The state's goal is to be below 100 per 100,000. One week ago the rate was 134.4 per 100,000.

Additionally, the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 continues to trend downward, with 392 in regional hospitals including 125 in intensive care units.

The percentage of people testing positive for the illness who have been contacted by a county contact tracer in the first 48 hours has increased from a dismal 7% on July 18 to 73%. The county's target for this metric is more than 90%, but 70% is good enough to get it out of the "failed" trigger category.

Five additional community outbreaks were reported Wednesday, bringing the number of community outbreaks in the county in the past week to 30. The outbreaks were reported in a preschool, a restaurant/bar setting, a faith-based organization and two in businesses.

There have been 164 community outbreaks reported since stay-at-home orders in March, with 1,220 cases and 11 deaths linked. In skilled nursing facilities, 145 deaths have been linked to 59 outbreaks.

An outbreak is considered to have occurred if three or more people from different households contract COVID-19 from one location.

Officials say declining case numbers and other important metrics show positive trends, leading some lawmakers to begin looking at ways to move forward with further reopening of the economy.

The County Board of Supervisors over the past three days opened county- owned parks for worship and fitness activities; approved spending $48 million in federal pandemic-related funding to help child care providers, testing in schools and meals for senior citizens; added a pilot walk-up testing program at the San Ysidro Port of Entry for essential workers and U.S. citizens; and approved a plan that adds 22 members to a "safe reopening compliance team" to crack down on businesses refusing to follow public health orders.

The compliance team will focus on three types of violators, starting with the most blatant cases — such as those who host mass gatherings. The next level of enforcement would focus on businesses or groups that have experienced community outbreaks. Lastly, the team will check on less serious violations reported to them by concerned individuals, including businesses not requiring 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.

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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