Dr. Wilma Wooten says we are seeing positive cases because people are eating at tables without masks
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – San Diego County public health officials reported the number of total COVID-19 cases in the region has crossed 30,000, even as other numbers appear to be improving.
A total of 343 new cases Monday raises the county total to 30,226. No new deaths were reported Monday, keeping that number at 565.
Of 6,536 tests the county recorded Monday, just over 5% of them returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average of positive tests down to 5.3%. The state’s target is fewer than 8% of tests returning positive.
The rate of the population testing positive has dropped to 118.2 per 100,000 people. The state’s goal is be below 100 per 100,000. A week ago that number was above 140 per 100,000.
As we approach three weeks since Governor Gavin Newsom ordered indoor operations for various business sectors to close, cases in San Diego County do not seem to be decreasing. Indoor dining at restaurants have been closed for even longer, but why are we still seeing outbreaks at restaurants and bars?
County Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten answered the question at Monday’s press briefing. Wooten said, “when people are attending and going to the restaurants and bars they are sitting at tables, and they can have other individuals outside of their households. And if, when they’re sitting at the tables, they’re not wearing masks. And certainly you cannot wear a facial covering if you are eating. So again, they have moved outdoors, which is guidance from the state. We know that evidence shows that indoor, because of ventilation, the risk of transmitting the virus is greater indoors. So we’ve been doing well for the past 10 to 14 days, but we have to continue in the trajection that we are going.”
Wooten’s complete answer is below:
Additionally, the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 continues to drop, with 390 in regional hospitals including 124 in intensive care units — the fewest in several weeks.
The percentage of people testing positive for the illness who are contacted by a county contact tracer in the first 48 hours has increased from a dismal 9% in late July to more than 48% now. The county’s target for this metric is more than 70%.
The only metric the county appears to be getting worse on is the spread of community outbreaks. An additional four outbreaks were reported Monday — two in businesses, one in a higher education setting and one in a government setting — raising the number of community outbreaks in the county in the past week to 39.
Of the 132 outbreaks reported since June 1, 48 of them have occurred in restaurant/bar settings, 27 in other businesses, nine in healthcare settings and eight in restaurants.
Of the total positive cases, 2,599 — or 8.6% — required hospitalization and 656 — or 2.2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.
According to county data, 57% of adult San Diego County residents have underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart and lung disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. These conditions put such people at higher risk for serious illness should they contract COVID-19.
Of the total hospitalized during the pandemic due to the illness, 71% have been 50 or older. The highest age group testing positive for the illness are those 20-29, and that group is also least likely to take precautionary measures to avoid spreading the illness, a county statement said.
“Some San Diegans think they’re not going to get sick and therefore are not following the public health guidance,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “What they don’t realize is that they could get infected and pass the virus to others who are vulnerable.”
County residents ages 20-29 have accounted for 25.5% percent of COVID- 19 cases thus far, the highest of any age group, according to county data. The age group with the second highest number of infections — residents ages 30-39 – – represent 18.9% of the county’s COVID-19 cases.
County Supervisors Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher said they would bring a plan for a safe reopening compliance team before the full Board of Supervisors at its meeting on Tuesday. The team would supplement health order enforcement, including investigating egregious violations, outbreaks and conducting regular checks of the county’s more than 7,500 food facilities.
New enforcement could include a compliance hotline for tips, additional staff for investigations and outbreaks and coordination with cities to send a team to conduct investigations.