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San Diego County Reports 603 New COVID-19 Cases, Nine Deaths

A sign detailing how to protect against COVID-19 outside of Rubicon Deli in L...

Photo by Tarryn Mento

Above: A sign detailing how to protect against COVID-19 outside of Rubicon Deli in La Jolla, Calif. July 21, 2020.

San Diego County public health officials reported 603 new COVID-19 cases and nine additional deaths Saturday, raising the region's totals to 26,701 cases and 533 deaths.

Officials said five men and four women died between July 11 and July 24 and their ages ranged from 60 to 93. All but one had underlying medical conditions.

The county reported a record 16,429 diagnostic tests Friday, 4% of which returned positive. The 14-day rolling average of positive tests is 5.8%. The target set by California is less than 8%. The 7-day daily average of tests is 9,406.

Of the total positive cases, 2,364 — or 8.9% — required hospitalization and 606 — or 2.3% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

One new community setting outbreak was reported Friday in a business. In the past seven days, 11 community outbreaks were confirmed. The number of community outbreaks is above the trigger of seven or more in seven days. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households.

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 clear.

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

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San Diego County COVID-19 Data July 25, 2020

San Diego County COVID-19 Data July 25, 2020

San Diego County COVID-19 Data July 25, 2020

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Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the team would enable the county to step up enforcement on "egregious violations" — 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.

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.

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 212 in the hiring process.

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