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San Diego County Reports 551 New COVID-19 Cases, Seven Deaths

 A sign in the sand encourages beachgoers to wear masks in Del Mar, July 10, ...

Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: A sign in the sand encourages beachgoers to wear masks in Del Mar, July 10, 2020.

San Diego County health officials have reported 551 new COVID-19 infections and seven additional fatalities, raising the county's totals to 32,330 cases and 593 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.

The new deaths reported Friday — four men and three women — occurred between July 29 and Thursday, and ranged in age from 49 to 90. All had underlying medical conditions, according to the health department.

The county reported 9,472 tests Friday, 6% of which returned positive. The 14-day running average of daily positive results is 5.1%. The state's target is fewer than 8% testing positive.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 2,730 — or 8.4% — required hospitalization and 682 — or 2.1% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

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San Diego County COVID-19 Data Aug. 8, 2020

San Diego County COVID-19 Data Aug. 8, 2020

San Diego County COVID-19 Data Aug. 8, 2020

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County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Wednesday that because of problems with the state's electronic reporting system, which has led to a backlog in test results, additional cases might be retroactively added to both local and statewide case totals in coming weeks.

The county's case rate per 100,000 residents is 109.9. The state's goal is fewer than 100 per 100,000. The case rate is a 14-day average and is based on the date of the actual onset of the illness in each patient, not the date the illness was first reported by the county. Lags in reporting often lead to delays in new confirmed cases being reported to and announced by health officials.

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 7% on July 18 to 84% Friday. The county's target for this metric is more than 90%.

Another two community outbreaks were reported Friday, bringing the number of community outbreaks in the county in the past week to 20. The latest outbreaks were reported in a business and a government facility.

There have been 172 community outbreaks reported since stay-at-home orders were issued in March. A community 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 Board of Supervisors over the past week 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. Last, the team will check on less serious violations reported 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. The number is 858-694-2900.

Of the total hospitalized during the pandemic due to the illness, 71% have been 50 or older. But county residents ages 20-29 have accounted for 25.5% of COVID-19 cases, the highest of any age group, according to county data. That age group is also least likely to take precautionary measures to avoid spreading the illness, officials 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."

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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