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County Leaders ‘Sound The Alarm’ As COVID-19 Case Rates Climb

County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten gives an update on COVID-19, Ap...

Credit: County of San Diego

Above: County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten gives an update on COVID-19, April 8, 2020.

San Diego County public health officials implored San Diegans Friday to maintain vigilance as positive case rates for the coronavirus continue to increase in the region and 311 new cases and three new deaths were reported.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten held an emergency meeting to "sound the alarm" as the future case rate appears to cross into the "purple" tier of the state's four-tier reopening system.

The county will be in the red, or substantial, tier for at least another two weeks.

With the state's monitoring system having a seven-day lag, both the adjusted and unadjusted case rate of positive COVID-19 tests for next week appear to be above seven new daily cases per 100,000 population, the state's metric for the most restrictive purple tier.

The good news is it will take two consecutive weeks with data in purple tier levels before the county is moved back to that step, so there may be a chance of reversing trends and avoiding that precipitous drop.

Nearly all non-essential indoor businesses would close under the purple tier.

"We are still in the red tier, but it is too close for comfort," Wooten said. "We encourage teleworking as much as possible, and if you're sick, don't go into work."

RELATED: San Diego Nears 50,000 Coronavirus Cases Mark, 8 More Community Outbreaks Reported

The California Department of Public Health will update the county's data Tuesday.

"We do control our own destiny moving forward," Fletcher said.

The statistics reported Friday raise the region's total cases to 51,781 and deaths to 850.

Of the 6,724 tests reported Friday, 5% returned positive, keeping the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases at 3%.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,740 — or 7.2% — have required hospitalization and 865 — or 1.7% of all cases — required patients to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

There are 245 COVID-19 patients in the county's hospitals, including 77 in intensive care units.

One new community outbreak was reported Friday. In the past seven days, 40 community outbreaks were confirmed, well above the trigger of seven or more in a week's time.

A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

The county uses community outbreaks to get a larger sense of the pandemic locally, but the state does not include the statistic in its weekly report.

Wooten said 95% of the county's cases were not related to a marked community outbreak, a clear indicator the illness has spread throughout the county.

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