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3 More People Test Positive For Coronavirus In San Diego

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is seen in yellow, emerging from cells (...

Credit: National Institutes of Health

Above: The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is seen in yellow, emerging from cells (in blue and pink) cultured in the lab. This image is from a scanning electron microscope.

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Three more people have tested positive for coronavirus in San Diego County, the county Health and Human Services Agency announced Friday.

On Thursday, county officials said six people had tested positive for the COVID-19, including a case that is likely from community spread.

The new COVID-19 cases are:

— a man in his 40s who is hospitalized and in isolation and traveled to New York and Philadelphia;

— a man in his 30s who is in isolation at home and traveled to Chicago; and

— a woman in her 70s who is at home in isolation.

That brings the number of cases, to date, in San Diego to 11, eight locally and three from the federal quarantine.

Test samples will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation. The county will now conduct a “contact investigation” for those who tested positive to see who else they may have possibly exposed to the coronavirus.

On Friday, President Donald Trump announced a range of executive actions, including a new public-private partnership to expand coronavirus testing capabilities.

Reported by Matt Hoffman , Video by Roland Lizarondo

Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health, said more tests would be available over the next week, but that officials should not wait before trying to mitigate the virus' effects.

Right now, the county lab is still doing the bulk of testing here in San Diego. Health officials say the virus will likely spread in the coming days and weeks. But there are simply not enough tests for everyone.

“The testing is reserved for those who need it most,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. “We will not be able to test everyone.”

The county lab has around 1,200 coronavirus tests right now for a region with more than 3 million residents. If cases explode, officials say they simply won't be able to meet the need.

“Once we have community-wide spread if people are stable — they have symptoms that are similar to a cold or mouth flu — we will ask them to stay at home until their symptoms are resolved,” she said.

Until then, there are three ways someone can get tested:

— if that person traveled to a high-risk area;

— if that person had contact with a confirmed case; or

— if that person has a severe respiratory illness and does not have a history of travel or contact with someone with COVID-19.

If you think you might have the virus, officials say to contact your healthcare provider. A vast majority of people with mild illness from COVID-19 recover, according to the World Health Organization. Those with more severe illness may take up to six weeks to recover.

States like Colorado have begun testing people right from their cars, and we could see that here soon. In-home options are also being considered.

Once a case is confirmed a contact investigation begins where officials try to see who else may be infected, but the county’s Wooten said contact investigations are a lot of work. And it's only a matter of time before county staff are overwhelmed. But she said officials have a plan.

“We are looking at expanding, or surging, by bringing in contracted nurses, as well as volunteers from our local healthcare system,” she said.

Some tests are being distributed to local private labs and healthcare facilities but a county spokesman says it's unclear how many they have.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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