County Prepares For Retail Opening Friday As COVID-19 Deaths Climb To 158
San Diego County continues to prepare for some businesses to reopen Friday, even as Wednesday's data showed a slight increase in the rate of COVID-19 positive-testing individuals.
Local health officials reported 159 new cases and eight deaths Wednesday, raising the county totals to 4,319 cases and 158 deaths.
County Chairman Greg Cox said while the county prepared to meet Gov. Gavin Newsom's orders to reopen some retail, manufacturing and logistics businesses, it ultimately held power on which were going to open.
Some businesses might not have the staff, supplies or protocols in place to safely reopen, and the county would not allow those unprepared businesses to open in an unsafe manner "no matter what the governor says," Cox said.
To avoid that uncomfortable situation, he encouraged business owners to visit www.sandiegocounty.gov/coronavirus.html to find a "safe reopening plan" template to help prepare.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said employers and employees should get used to increased health surveillance, including daily temperature checks. He said the best way to prevent the spread of the illness is "changing our individual behavior," but that by sending home sick employees, businesses could help.
City Councilman Scott Sherman urged county officials to give San Diegans the right to choose.
"San Diegans have sacrificed much to flatten the curve and many are now struggling. Our region has shown that we can act responsibly," he said. "I urge the County Board of Supervisors to begin immediate work so our region can move more quickly through phase two and open more businesses."
Wednesday's deaths included three women in their 70s to 80s and seven men ranging from their 40s to their 80s.
The county and its health partners completed 2,260 tests Wednesday, raising the total completed tests to 65,737. Of those, around 7% returned positive, a slightly higher rate than the rolling average.
On Wednesday, 363 COVID-19 positive individuals were in the hospital, 133 in intensive care. Since the health crisis began, 882 people with novel coronavirus have been admitted to the hospital, 281 of whom were sent to the ICU. The county estimates 2,333 people have recovered from the illness.
These numbers translate to 20.4% of all positive-testing individuals being hospitalized, 6.5% spending at least some time in intensive care and 3.7% dying of COVID-19.
According to data presented by Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, men are more likely to die of the illness — they represent 56.3% of the fatalities — and people identified as white make up around 49% of the deaths, with Latinos not far behind at 39% of all COVID-19 deaths in the county.