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Another 302 COVID-19 Cases Raise County Total To More than 11,000 Cases

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

UPDATE: 4 p.m., June 22, 2020

San Diego County health officials Monday reported 302 new COVID-19 infections, raising the cumulative total to 11,096 cases, while the death toll remained unchanged at 338.

The 302 new cases represent the second-largest increase since the pandemic began and 5% of the 5,831 tests reported Monday. The largest increase in cases yet came on Sunday, when 310 tests, or 7% of that day's tests, were reported as positive.

The numbers are concerning to public health officials, who had praised San Diego County for avoiding the brunt of the pandemic's ill effects so far.

"The message here is very clear," said county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. "The dangers from coronavirus are real."

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Another three community outbreaks were reported Monday, raising the number reported in the last week to 10 -- the most in any week's span since the pandemic began in early March.

Community-transmitted COVID-19 outbreaks activated one of the county's public health triggers last week, placing a pause on any additional openings allowed by the state.

"We continue to implore the public to wear facial coverings and avoid having gatherings at your home," Fletcher said.

After public health officials Thursday reported eight community- transmitted outbreaks in San Diego County within a week, Fletcher said any further openings allowed by Gov. Gavin Newsom wouldn't be implemented until numbers go down.

As part of the 13 public health triggers announced earlier this month, the county could take industry-specific actions, pause all reopening efforts or even dial back reopenings if enough of the metrics rise above a certain threshold. The threshold for community outbreaks -- defined as three or more lab-confirmed cases from different households -- was fewer than seven in a week's span.

Two new community outbreaks were reported Friday, offsetting three outbreaks which "fell off" the county's one-week rolling monitoring period. The total number of outbreaks in a community setting is now at seven, which keeps the metric at a caution level.

Fletcher did not report where exactly the new outbreaks occurred and said doing so would "undermine" cooperation the county was receiving from businesses and other locations to report COVID-19 outbreaks.

As of yet, a correlated increase in hospital stays, ICU visits and ventilator usage has not occurred, but Fletcher said those are lagging indicators and are likely to increase if the number of positive cases continues to rise.

The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive tests is 2.9%.

As of Monday, the number of cases requiring hospitalization totaled 1,627 and the number admitted to intensive care units was 451.

Personal care businesses such as skincare and waxing salons, tattoo parlors, massage therapists and nail salons were allowed by the county to reopen Friday.

County health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, suggesting how long the COVID-19 pandemic could impact the region, said it may not be safe for people to have gatherings at their homes "until sometime next year," a far cry from the mid- March hopes of flattening the curve and ending the pandemic.

"With the reopenings, people think we can go back to the pre-COVID existence, and we cannot," she said.

The county launched an interactive website early last week that allows residents to find COVID-19 testing locations near them. The website can be found at 211sandiego.org.