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San Diego County Remains In Red Tier As It Reports 161 COVID-19 Cases, 3 Deaths

A man walks by a COVID-19 testing sign at UC San Diego campus, Sept. 28, 2020.

Photo by Jacob Aere

Above: A man walks by a COVID-19 testing sign at UC San Diego campus, Sept. 28, 2020.

San Diego County will remain in the second, or red, tier of the state's four-tier COVID-19 reopening plan for at least another week.

The county's state-calculated, adjusted case rate is 6.5 new daily infections per 100,000 people, down from last week's 6.7. The unadjusted case rate is down to 7 from last week's 7.2. Because San Diego County testing levels were above the state median testing volume, the county's adjustment level was decreased.

On the last two Tuesdays, the county narrowly avoided being pushed back into purple tier, the most strict in the state's reopening plan. The state- set threshold of case rate to avoid the purple tier is below 7 per 100,000.

To move into the less-restrictive orange tier, a county must have a rate below 3.9 per 100,000 people.

County public health officials reported 161 new COVID-19 infections and three deaths on Tuesday, raising the region's totals to 48,821 cases and 806 deaths.

Two men and one woman died between Oct. 2 and Oct. 4, and their ages ranged from mid-50s to early 80s. All had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 8,788 tests reported Tuesday, 2% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 2.9%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 9,277.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,602 — or 7.4% — have required hospitalization and 833 — or 1.7% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

None of the 224 cases reported Monday were connected to San Diego State University, but two previously reported confirmed cases are now associated with the school outbreak, bringing the total number of SDSU cases to 1,136, according to public health officials.

Those two cases were previously reported to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, but only recently identified — through continued cross-referencing between SDSU and the HHSA — as having an SDSU affiliation.

A total of 407 on-campus students, 707 off-campus students, 9 faculty or staff and 13 visitors have either confirmed or probable positive COVID-19 diagnoses. Officials said 53 of the total are considered "probable."

SDSU announced last Wednesday that it was extending a pause on in- person courses through Oct. 12. Effective that day, a limited number of courses will resume in person. Most of those courses are upper-division or graduate level, and have been "determined by faculty and academic leaders to be essential to student degree completion, licensure, and career preparation," university officials said in a statement.

About 2,100 students will be enrolled in an in-person course. Prior to the in-person pause, 6,200 students were enrolled in an in-person course.

In the seven-day period from Sept. 29 through Monday, 20 community outbreaks were confirmed, well 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 over the past 14 days.

A COVID-19 testing site opened this week in Chula Vista, offering 200 daily tests, five days per week.

The drive-up site will provide free, no-appointment diagnostic tests from 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday at the South Chula Vista Library at 389 Orange Avenue. The COVID-19 tests take about 5-10 minutes and the results come back in about three days.

The county has expanded its total testing sites to 41 locations, and school staff, including teachers, cafeteria workers, janitors and bus drivers, can be tested for free at any one of those sites. A rotating testing program with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is in the works for schools in the county's rural areas.

There are no state testing requirements for children, but all school staff who interact with children must be tested every two months. If schools were to open before San Diego County headed to a more restrictive tier in the state's monitoring system, they would not be affected. However, if a move to a different tier happened before schools opened for in-person learning, it would change the game plan, county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said.

If parents want to test their children for the illness, they have options, including Rady Children's Hospital, through Kaiser Permanente or through the 41 sites the county manages. Children as young as 6 months can be tested at the county-run sites.

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