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San Diego Reports 358 New COVID-19 Cases As Halloween Weekend Approaches

A man walking at the pond in Balboa Park on June 14, 2020, the first weekend ...

Photo by Alexander Nguyen

Above: A man walking at the pond in Balboa Park on June 14, 2020, the first weekend Balboa Park reopened following the coronavirus closure.

San Diego County public health officials have reported 358 new COVID-19 cases and four additional coronavirus fatalities, raising the region's total to 55,898 cases and 885 deaths.

Three men and one woman died between Oct. 26 and Oct. 27. Their ages ranged from mid-30s to early 80s. All had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 13,338 tests reported Thursday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 2.8%. The 7-day daily average of tests is 11,110.

A total of eight new community outbreaks were confirmed Thursday, four in businesses, two in grocery settings, one in a preschool and one in a restaurant. These bring the total in the past week to 37.

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.

Of all cases, 3,892 — or 7% — have required hospitalization. And 902 — or 1.6% — of all cases and 23.2% of hospitalized cases had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, said the three most common co-morbidities with COVID-19 in the region were hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

The county avoided the state's "purple" tier for yet another week on Tuesday, remaining in the less restrictive "red" tier of the state's four- tiered coronavirus monitoring system.

The county's adjusted case rate dropped to 6.5 new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population, which is far from ideal, but allows the county to maintain some semblance of normalcy.

"We're holding steady in San Diego County," said County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher at a weekly meeting of county officials Wednesday.

"We have to redouble our efforts," he said, referring to the approaching winter and flu season. "This has the potential to take off."

According to the California Department of Public Health, the county's unadjusted case rate is 7.4 per 100,000 — enough to be in the most restrictive purple tier, which has a floor of 7 per 100,000. However the high volume of tests the county is able to perform daily allows for an adjustment from the state. This adjustment has kept the county in the red tier for several weeks, saving it from having to shut down nearly all nonessential indoor businesses.

The state data, which is updated every Tuesday, reflects the previous week's case data to determine where counties stand in the state's four-tiered reopening system.

San Diego County did show modest improvement, dropping 0.4 from last week's unadjusted case rate of 7.8. The testing positivity rate continued an upward trend, rising 0.2% from last week to reach 3.5%, but remains low enough for this metric to remain in the orange tier. If a county reports statistics meeting metrics in a higher tier for two consecutive weeks, it will move into that more restrictive tier for a minimum of three weeks.

The state's health equity metric, which looks at the testing positivity for areas with the lowest healthy conditions, dropped from 5.5% to 5.1% and entered the orange tier. This metric does not move counties backward to more restrictive tiers, but is required to advance.

All students at San Diego State University remain under a stay-at-home advisory. The advisory began at 6 p.m. Friday and will run through Monday at 6 a.m. University officials said the move was made to discourage students from participating in Halloween events in which physical distancing cannot be done. Students are advised to stay home unless they have an essential need.

The Escondido Union School District reported two positive cases Thursday at Mission Middle School.

District officials were notified of the positive tests on Tuesday, and said the cases were separate.

The new cases prompted district officials to advise 25 students, five teachers and three classroom aides to begin a 14-day quarantine.

The Vista Unified School District reported four COVID-19 cases Monday, including two Mission Vista High School students, one Roosevelt Middle School student and one Alamosa Park Elementary School student.

On Tuesday, the district confirmed two additional cases — one at Mission Meadows Elementary School and one at Alamosa Park Elementary School.

According to the district's COVID-19 safety dashboard, it has recorded 13 cases since Sept. 8, with nine of those coming after Oct. 20.

The VUSD Board voted Tuesday to shut down at least one campus for two weeks starting Thursday as a result of the rising cases. At least 400 students and nearly two dozen staff members have been ordered to quarantine.

Mission Vista High School moved to distance learning for at least two weeks starting Thursday, while Alta Vista High School and Roosevelt Middle School also face potential closures.

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