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San Diego County Reports 490 New COVID-19 Cases, 12 Deaths

A sign at Coronado beach on July 12 telling residents the city's stay-at-home...

Photo by Alexander Nguyen

Above: A sign at Coronado beach on July 12 telling residents the city's stay-at-home order is still in effect.

San Diego County public health officials reported 490 new COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths related to the illness, raising the region's totals to 26,098 cases and 524 deaths.

Four women and eight men died between June 15 and July 22, and their ages ranged from 44 to 88. All had underlying medical conditions.

The county reported 6,974 tests Friday, 7% of which returned positive. The 14-day rolling average of positive tests is 6.1%. The target set by California is less than 8%.

After three days with a downward trend in cases, the 587 cases and 18 deaths reported Wednesday marked a swing in the other direction. Wednesday was the deadliest day due to COVID-19 yet reported in the pandemic.

Cal State San Marcos sent an advisory to students and staff Thursday evening notifying them that two employees who were working on campus have tested positive for COVID-19.

"One individual was last on campus on July 16 and the other individual on July 17," the advisory said. "Both are in self-isolation following public health protocols, as are people with whom they have had close personal contact."

As a result of numbers that continue to rise, Supervisor Greg Cox announced Wednesday that San Diego County was starting a Safe Reopening Compliance Team that will provide assistance to businesses and residents not in compliance with public health orders. The team's exact powers were not immediately clear.

"This is a carrot approach, not a stick," Cox said Wednesday. "But we still have the stick and other tools to ensure compliance."

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the team would enable the county to step up enforcement on "egregious violations" 2014 but the details on that enforcement were also unclear. Officials were reaching out to the various cities and communities in the county to collaborate on solutions.

"This is out of an effort to keep our businesses open, not to close them," Fletcher said.

Three new community outbreak was identified Friday, bringing the total in the past seven days to 13. The number of community outbreaks — defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households — remains higher than the state threshold of seven or more in seven days.

The new outbreaks were reported in a restaurant/bar, a gym and a church.

Of the total positive cases, 2,330 — or 8.9% — have been hospitalized and 602 — or 2.3% — have been admitted to an intensive care unit. As of Wednesday, 485 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized, 166 of them in intensive care units.

From July 13 to July 19, the county also reported its most hospitalizations, 163, and the most deaths, 56, in any one-week span since COVID-19 began spreading in the United States in March.

"We implore you to not wait for someone you care about to lose the fight against COVID-19 before you take action," Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, said Monday. She said the recent spike in cases began to occur after bars, hotels and gyms reopened June 12.

According to Wooten, 95% of the county's COVID-19 deaths have had underlying medical conditions.

The percentage of San Diegans testing positive rose to 158.5 per 100,000 residents as of Thursday's data, well above the state's criterion of 100 per 100,000.

The last metric the county has failed to maintain is the percentage of cases that have been handled by a contact investigator within 24 hours of being reported. There are more than 500 investigators employed by the county, and although 98% of all cases had been investigated in that time frame as recently as June 25, that rate had dropped to 9% as of Wednesday.

Wooten said that in response, the county is attempting to hire more contact investigators, with 97 set to come on board Friday and another 212 are in the hiring process.

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