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San Diego County Reports Over 500 New COVID-19 Cases For 5th Time In A Week

A San Diego county employee explains the testing process to a person with an ...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: A San Diego county employee explains the testing process to a person with an appointment at a San Diego County COVID 19 testing station by the SDCCU Stadium on May 18, 2020.

The San Diego County COVID-19 case total sits just shy of the 21,500 mark as county public health officials reported over 500 new cases for the fifth time in the last seven days.

The 559 cases and 12 deaths reported Wednesday raise the total number of cases to 21,446 and the number of deaths to 448. Of the 8,436 tests reported Wednesday, 7% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average to 7.2%.

County public health officials previously reported 560 cases last Thursday, 508 on Saturday, 558 on Sunday and 539 on Tuesday.

Four new community outbreaks were reported Wednesday, bringing the weekly total to 14 — well above the county's metric of no more than seven in a one-week span. The new outbreaks were reported in a laboratory, hair salon, barber shop and restaurant/bar.

A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households.

Of the total positive cases, 2,093 — or 9.8% — have been hospitalized and 546 — or 2.5% — of cases have been admitted to an intensive care unit.

About 147.2 of every 100,000 San Diegans are testing positive for the illness, well above the state's criterion of 100 per 100,000 and the highest daily rate since the pandemic began.

The last metric the county has failed to maintain is the percentage of cases that have been handled by a contact investigator. Although there are more than 500 investigators currently employed by the county and 98% of all cases had been investigated as recently as June 25, that rate has dropped to a dismal 46%.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the San Diego County's public health officer, said as a response to these flagging rates, the county is attempting to hire more contact investigators. In just a three-hour period after the job posting went online, more than 300 applications came in.

The number of cases continues to rise in people between the ages of 20 and 49 and particularly in people in their 20s, prompting the county to make efforts at educating younger people.

"While it's true that the mortality for younger people is lower, it's also true that the rate is not zero," said Dr. Scott Eisman, pulmonologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas. "The complications from this illness are far greater, much longer lasting and far more serious than the flu."

Eisman said in studies following SARS and MERS outbreaks — other coronaviruses — people who had the disease and showed symptoms sometimes didn't regain original lung capacity until a year or longer after the symptoms began.

"All indications lead us to expect it to be at least as serious as those diseases and much more aggressive," he said, adding that even otherwise healthy people could see months of complications from the illness.

Eisman also said heart attacks, strokes and serious blood clots were increasing among younger people confirmed to have COVID-19. A total of 58% of those confirmed to have COVID-19 in the county were between the ages of 20 and 49.

Following Gov. Gavin Newsom's updated health order Monday, all indoor operations ceased at midnight Tuesday in gyms, houses of worship, non-critical office businesses, hair salons and barber shops, indoor malls and personal care services, such as massage businesses and tattoo parlors.

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, which began its racing season five days ago, canceled its racing program for the upcoming weekend on Wednesday after 15 jockeys recently tested positive for COVID-19. Racing is slated to resume July 24.

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