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Live Blog: San Diego County Reports Record Number Of New COVID-19 Cases, Added To State Watchlist

This is a breaking news blog for all of the latest updates about the coronavirus pandemic. Get our complete coronavirus coverage here →

San Diego County Placed On State’s COVID-19 Monitoring List

–5:02 p.m., Friday, July 3, 2020

San Diego County was placed on the state's COVID-19 monitoring list Friday afternoon, which could lead to closures or new restrictions on businesses following the Fourth of July weekend.

County health officials said the rate of COVID-19 cases in the region surpassed the state's threshold of no more than 100 positive cases per 100,000 residents. The county reported a rate of 112.8 positive cases per 100,000 residents Thursday, a number that has increased from 103.8 per 100,000 just three days prior.

Now on the state's monitoring list, several businesses could be forced to change the way they do business indoors by as early as Tuesday, and restrictions would remain in place for a minimum of three weeks. Businesses affected include restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, cardrooms, family entertainment centers, museums and zoos.

The number of local cases has now reached 15,696, and the 489 cases reported Friday is the sixth time in a week the number of daily cases have been more than 400. Of the 7,307 tests reported Friday, 7% returned positive. The 14- day rolling average of positive tests is 5.3%.

An additional 10 people — six women and four men — have died from COVID-19, raising the county's total to 387. All of the them had underlying conditions and ranged in ages from mid-50s to late 90s.

No new community outbreaks were reported Friday, lowering the one-week count to 21. The county is still well over the limit of seven, which San Diego County set for itself. –City News Service

San Diego Reports Record Number Of New COVID-19 Cases, Added To State Watchlist

– 3:45 p.m., Thursday, July 2, 2020

San Diego County recorded a record number of new COVID-19 cases Thursday and will be added to the state’s monitoring list, which is expected to result in new restrictions on businesses starting next week.

County health officials reported 10 new outbreaks, eight of which were traced to bars or restaurants, one to a grocery store and one to a business.

A record 584 new cases were reported, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases to 15,207. Five more people have died from the virus, for a regional total of 377 coronavirus related deaths.

About 12% of all cases have required hospitalization and 3.3% of cases have had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

In the past three days, San Diego County's rate of COVID-19 cases went from 103.8 per 100,000 people to 112.8, which exceeds the state's threshold for no more than 100 cases per 100,000.

The county expects to remain on the state's watchlist for at least the next three days and the region could implement more restrictive measures and additional closures to slow the spread of the virus.

Businesses on the state’s list should prepare to close or modify their operations since new restrictions could be effective as early as July 7 and would last for three weeks.

Indoor activities could be restricted for the following businesses:

– Dine-in restaurants

– Wineries and tasting rooms

– Movie theaters, family entertainment centers and cardrooms

– Museums and zoos

– KPBS News Staff

San Diego County Opens a New Free COVID-19 Testing Site in National City

—2:17 p.m. July 2, 2020

San Diego County has opened a new free COVID-19 testing site at the Tubman-Chavez Community Center in National City.

The testing center is open seven days a week (except for July Fourth) and no appointments are necessary. In a statement, the County advised people seeking tests to arrive between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Tests take 5 to 10 minutes and wait times will vary. Testing is limited to 150 people a day.

The Tubman-Chavez Community Center used to be the location of a state testing site. That has been relocated to the Kimball Senior Center. Open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., appointments are required. — Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

California Governor Urges People To Avoid Holiday Gatherings

–2 p.m., Thursday, July 2, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday urged Californians to turn to their “better angels” and use common sense over the holiday weekend by wearing a mask and skipping traditional gatherings with family and friends.

“We're not going into everybody's backyard and enforcing," he said. “We're just encouraging people to be safe, to be thoughtful about themselves and others."

He also announced a new public awareness campaign, involving billboards, TV and radio ads in multiple languages, urging Californians to follow the state's mandate to wear a face covering.

One ad shows a person breathing on a ventilator with a mask that reads: “Even without symptoms, you can spread COVID-19. And people can die. People like your mom."

The ads are starting in English and Spanish and will eventually run in seven languages. The effort also includes social media ads and will focus specifically on Black and Latino communities, which are being disproportionately impacted by the virus.

Previous awareness campaigns by the state featured prominent celebrities such as Larry David and Julia Louis-Dreyfus urging people to stay home and practice social distancing.

The new campaign is funded in part by Silicon Valley groups and philanthropists, including Tom Steyer, a former Democratic presidential candidate and head of Newsom's Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery. — Associated Press

–KPBS Staff

San Diego County Close To Being On State’s Warning List

– 5:15 p.m., Wednesday, July 1, 2020

San Diego County officials on Wednesday announced they expect the state to force some local businesses to roll back reopening as the region’s COVID-19 activity continues to grow.

"If your car is speeding down the road toward a cliff, you hit the break,” Supervisor Greg Cox said. “We're hitting the brakes."

The county earlier this week announced local restrictions on bars and restaurants but it recently exceeded one of the six metrics monitored by the state, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said. If the county exceeds any of the state’s metrics, the county will be flagged by the state for mitigation measures, County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said.

Of the six categories, San Diego has had more than 100 case-rate per 100,000 residents for the past two days. Wooten said if that trend continues, San Diego will be placed on the state’s watch list by July 3.

If the county remains on the watch list for three consecutive days, Wooten said the region will face the rollback measures announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier Wednesday. Newsom ordered 19 counties to shutter indoor operations at certain businesses that include restaurants, wineries and family entertainment venues, such as bowling alleys.

There were 474 new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday out of 7,825 tests for a positive rate of 6%. The county’s total increase to 14,623. Officials reported an additional seven deaths, bringing that tally to 372.

Also on Wednesday, the county reached two of its own local metrics to track COVID activity.

Wooten reported 13 community outbreaks in the previous seven days, which is 6 more than the threshold. She also noted a decline in the percentage of COVID cases the county began investigating within 24 hours over the last seven days. The goal is 70%, but that figure dipped to 69%. — Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer, Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

Counties Neighboring San Diego Must Close Bars, Restaurants And Other Indoor Operations, Governor Says

– 12:45 p.m., Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday ordered 19 California counties, including four neighboring counties to San Diego, to close indoor operations of specific businesses to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19.

He also announced that state beaches will close parking this upcoming Fourth of July weekend.

Governor Gavin Newsom provides an update on the state’s response to COVID-19.

The total counties impacted are Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Merced, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare and Ventura.

Types of businesses impacted are: restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums and cardrooms.

The state has identified these businesses as those that are at higher risk for COVID-19 spread. These businesses, however, will be allowed to operate in outdoor facilities as indoor air flow makes for higher risk of transmission, Newsom said.

Casinos on sovereign tribal land and the state are in “deep conversations” for continuing their operations, he said.

Photo caption:

Photo by Courtesy of California Governor's Office

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered 19 counties to close indoor operations of certain businesses in California, July 1, 2020.

Newsom also announced parking at state beaches in Southern California and the Bay Area will close this weekend. The move comes after Los Angeles and Ventura counties decided to close their local beaches for the July Fourth holiday. In counties where local beaches are closed, state beaches will also be closed, he said.

Other state parks will remain open with measures in place to reduce visitation and limit overcrowding.

Newsom also announced the state will form multi-agency strike teams to crack down on businesses that are operating in violation of health orders. The agencies include the California Highway Patrol, Department of Consumer Affairs and Depart of Business Oversight. The goal is to get voluntary compliance from business owners. – Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

San Diego County Orders Restaurants That Serve Alcohol To Close By 10 p.m. Daily

– 2:50 p.m., Tuesday, June 30, 2020

San Diego County officials Tuesday ordered all bars that don’t serve food to close indefinitely and all restaurants that serve alcohol need to close by 10 p.m. daily amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases.

The order for restaurants goes into effect Wednesday.

The move comes a day after the county issued an order for all bars, breweries and wineries that don't have a license to serve food to close their businesses by midnight Tuesday night.

Health officials reported 317 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the county total to 14,149 and 4 more deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 365.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said bars, restaurants and private residences make up the largest source, 40%, of recent community outbreaks. He noted that all community outbreaks have originated at an indoor setting. – KPBS Staff

Newsom To 'Tighten Things Up' As Coronavirus Cases Rise

– 12 p.m., Tuesday, June 30, 2020

With coronavirus cases surging, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that he plans to “tighten things up" when it comes to the state's stay-at-home order ahead of a busy Fourth of July weekend.

California has confirmed close to 223,000 infections, a nearly 50% increase over two weeks ago that's been driven in part by the state's ability to now test more than 100,000 people per day. But more concerning to officials is the steady growth in COVID-19 hospitalizations — a 43% increase in the past two weeks.

Officials in Los Angeles County on Monday announced they will close beaches and ban fireworks displays in the nation's most populous county this weekend as it hit a one-day record of 2,903 confirmed cases and more than 100,000 overall. And in the Central Valley, officials in Fresno ordered all bars to close.

WATCH here:

“Our cases are not currently under control,” said Dr. Rais Vohra, interim health officer for Fresno County.

Newsom has asked Imperial County to impose more restrictions after hospitals in the county near the U.S.-Mexico border had so many patients they had to transfer some to nearby facilities. But Newsom has mostly tried to let local governments decide for themselves what restrictions they should put in place.

That strategy could change Wednesday, when Newsom plans to issue new restrictions. The Democratic governor did not say what they would be, other than that he would “tighten things up.” He said people are more likely to get sick when they are indoors compared with outdoors, saying he will look at public health orders “in relationship to indoor vs. outdoor activities.” Associated Press

San Diego Orders All Bars, Wineries, Breweries That Don’t Serve Food To Close

– 2:45 p.m., Monday, June 29, 2020

In response to the rising number of new COVID-19 cases in San Diego, the county on Monday announced it’s dialing back some reopenings and putting a pause on future reopenings.

Effective midnight Tuesday, the county will close all bars, wineries and breweries that do not have a license to serve food. Over the weekend Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered bars in several counties to close, including Los Angeles and Imperial counties. San Diego was not part of that list.

“We don’t want to wait to be forced to take an action when we know it is wise for us to do so,” Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said.

WATCH LIVE here:

He also clarified people can consume alcohol in restaurants as part of their meals, just by itself.

Dialing back on these reopenings is meant to slow the spread to a point where the county can avoid a total lockdown as seen in March, Fletcher said.

The county is also pausing any future reopenings until August 1, Supervisor Greg Cox said.

Also on Monday, the county reported 498 new COVID-19 cases, a new single-day record and one more than the previous single-day record announced Sunday, and no new deaths.

In the coming days, the county will announce additional changes to the public health orders, Fletcher said. — Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer

WATCH: Gov. Newsom Gives Update On State's Response To Coronavirus Outbreak

– 12 p.m., Monday, June 29, 2020

WATCH LIVE here:

San Diego Blood Bank Starts COVID-19 Antibody Tests Today To Identify Plasma Donors

– 11:55 a.m., Monday, June 29, 2020

The San Diego Blood Bank announced Monday that from now through the end of July, it will test all blood donations for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, the virus that causes the COVID-19.

The blood bank will use the results of those tests to help identify potential convalescent plasma donors.

The test detects if a person's immune system has developed antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, regardless of whether he or she showed symptoms. However, it's not a diagnostic test and will not detect active infections or recent exposure.

Donors who are found positive for SARS-CoV-2 will be able to donate COVID-19 convalescent plasma the next time they donate. The plasma is being used to treat critically ill coronavirus patients. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports Record 497 New COVID-19 Cases, One New Death

— 3:45 p.m., Sunday, June 28, 2020

San Diego County reported 497 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the highest daily tally of cases in the county since the pandemic began.

County officials also reported one death, bringing the total number of deaths to 361.

Of the 8,301 tests reported on Saturday, 6.1% were positive, officials said. The rolling 14-day positivity rate for San Diego County is 3.9%.

Of the 13,334 cases reported in the county thus far, 13.1% of those people have been admitted to the hospital and 3.6% ended up in the intensive care unit.

San Diego County has also reported eight new community outbreaks over the past seven days, which puts it above the outbreak threshold established by the county. Seven or more outbreaks within seven days could mean county officials pause or dial back reopenings. — KPBS Social Media Strategist Laura McVicker

Gov. Gavin Newsom Orders Bars in Some California Counties to Close

— 1:10 p.m., Sunday, June 28, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday ordered bars that have opened in seven California counties to immediately close and urged bars in eight other counties to do the same, saying the coronavirus was rapidly spreading in some parts of the state.

The counties under the mandatory bar closure order are: Los Angeles, Fresno, San Joaquin, Kings, Kern, Imperial and Tulare.

State officials asked eight other counties — Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Stanislaus — to issue local health orders closing bars.

Imperial County, just east of San Diego County, has been the slowest county in the state to open, as it has grappled with high positivity rates. Newsom on Friday urged the county to reinstate its stay-at-home order to slow the rapid spread of the virus there. — Associated Press. KPBS contributed to this report.

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