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San Diego County Records 4 More COVID-19 Deaths, Cases Rise To 1,628

County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten gives an update on COVID-19, April 8, 2020.
County of San Diego
County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten gives an update on COVID-19, April 8, 2020.

San Diego County officials expanded a public health order Thursday, building on an order requiring facial coverings to additional essential employees as the local death toll from COVID-19 climbed to 40.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced that bank employees, public transportation workers and childcare providers who serve food must now wear non-medical grade facial coverings at work. Public transportation includes public employees such as those working for the Metropolitan Transit System but also includes drivers for Uber and Lyft and cab drivers.

The number of COVID-19 cases reached 1,628 on Thursday — an increase of 98 from Wednesday — and four new deaths brought the death toll to 40. Of total cases, 348 have been hospitalized, 132 of which have been placed in intensive care. The county estimates 301 county residents have recovered from the illness.

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Fletcher said the county estimated the recoveries by taking the last known positive tests for the illness, waiting two weeks and subtracting any loss of life. It is a rough estimate, but does give some semblance of the county's picture, he said, noting it was similar to how Johns Hopkins University tracked cases and recovery worldwide.

The county's number of confirmed outbreaks of the illness grew to 28 Thursday, including three new outbreaks in congregate living facilities, bringing that total to 20. Those outbreaks could be tracked to 183 cases and 15 deaths. The other eight outbreaks could be traced to 38 cases and one death.

The last several days have seen more than half the total deaths among county residents from the pandemic -- 21 confirmed fatalities. Fletcher said the number of positive tests was increasing, but not at an alarming rate.

He said that while the 98 cases reported Thursday is the most in the past several days, it "wasn't a cause for alarm, just as fewer cases a few days ago was not a cause for relief." Fletcher reiterated what has been a common point from him over the past month in stating that day-over-day results were not the best way to get a full picture of the health crisis.

The county and the 23 hospitals in the region have administered 22,098 COVID-19 tests, around 93% of which have returned negative. San Diego County has distributed 1.9 million pieces of personal protective equipment, including 788,145 N95 respirators, 711,000 pairs of gloves and 362,665 surgical masks.

Fletcher said that despite the response, the county was waiting on state and federal help, as "a number of entities are beginning to run low" on supplies.