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Latest Coronavirus Death Toll Shows A Surge In South San Diego County

Christa Jones, a nurse in the Sharp Grossmont Hospital intensive care unit, t...

Photo by Zoë Meyers / inewsource

Above: Christa Jones, a nurse in the Sharp Grossmont Hospital intensive care unit, takes a moment to comfort a COVID-19 patient. April 20, 2020.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to claim more lives in San Diego County, the demographics have shifted. As of Wednesday, there were 230 deaths across the county, and now there are more deaths in the southern part of the county and an increasing number of Latinos succumbing to COVID-19.

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Among the first 100 deaths due to the coronavirus, 56% were white people, while 28% were Latino. Among the next 100 deaths, the numbers flipped, with 35% white and 52% Latino.

RELATED: A Snapshot Of Who Died From Coronavirus In San Diego County

So far, 17 Asian people and four African Americans have died due to coronavirus in San Diego County.

There has been a geographical change as well. Of the last 100 deaths, 39 have been in South Bay cities. Meanwhile, East County areas have seen their share of deaths fall, from 41% of the first 100 deaths to 31% of the next 100.

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RELATED: Scripps, Sharp HealthCare Voice Concerns Over County Reopening Plan

None of this is news to South Bay health officials, who for weeks have been calling for more resources as their hospitals fill up with more COVID-19 patients. They say a big reason for the surge is essential workers crossing the border and Americans living in Mexico who are returning for care.

Scripps Health CEO Chris Van Gorder said 39% of the people with COVID-19 in Chula Vista said they crossed the border in the previous week.

And, he said, hospitals in South Bay are being stretched thin.

"Our positive test rate in Chula Vista is 18%," he said. "The county is telling everybody it's 4% right now, which is true countywide. But that's not true in Chula Vista. We've had to transfer 56 patients from Chula Vista up to our northern hospitals."

MAP: San Diego COVID-19 Cases By ZIP Code

Click on the map to display the number of cases per ZIP code. This map does not display confirmed cases with an unknown ZIP code.

Both Scripps and Sharp have asked for help from federal officials to screen for illness among people crossing the border.

Like almost everywhere, the coronavirus in San Diego County is disproportionately more deadly to men, elderly people and those with pre-existing conditions. Men account for 56 percent of deaths and the median age of those who died was 78. And 97% of the people who died had at least one pre-existing condition.

Last week, Dr. Eric McDonald, the county's medical director, detailed what underlying medical conditions can mean. Among those who died with an underlying condition, 54% had hypertension, 36% had dementia or Alzheimers, 31% had diabetes, 30% had heart disease, 20% had chronic kidney disease, 11% had asthma, and 9% were immune-compromised, he said.

Listen to this story by Claire Trageser.

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Photo of Claire Trageser

Claire Trageser
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs a member of the KPBS investigative team, my job is to hold the powerful in San Diego County accountable. I've done in-depth investigations on political campaigns, police officer misconduct and neighborhood quality of life issues.

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