San Diego County Public Health Officer advises people to “assume everybody has COVID-19”
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – As San Diego County continues to await guidance on the effects of its removal from the state’s coronavirus watchlist, public health officials reported 212 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths Wednesday, raising the region’s totals to 35,376 cases and 638 deaths.
The county was officially removed from the state’s monitoring list Tuesday, setting in motion a 14-day countdown that could see K-12 students back in the classroom as soon as Sept. 1, depending on the decisions of individual school districts. However, any guidance on what that means for businesses was still unclear.
The county continues to make progress, with a case rate of 84.4 positive COVID-19 tests per 100,000 people on Wednesday, below the state’s 100 per 100,000 guideline.
The county will be placed back on the list should it be flagged for exceeding any one of six different metrics for three consecutive days. Those metrics are the case rate, the percentage of positive tests, the average number of tests a county is able to perform daily, changes in the number of hospitalized patients and the percentage of ventilators and intensive care beds available.
Of the 6,781 tests reported Wednesday, 3% returned positive, lowering the 14-day rolling average to 4%, well below the state’s 8% guideline. The 7- day rolling average of tests is 7,798 daily.
Of the total positive cases in the county, 2,916 — or 8.2% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 723 — or 2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit. The current number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital rose slightly to 303 Wednesday, with 104 of those in the ICU.
County health officials reported two new community outbreaks Wednesday, dropping the number of outbreaks in the past week to 15.
The new outbreaks were in a restaurant and a business. The county continues to keep the names and locations of businesses with outbreaks secret, Los Angeles County is the only county to make this information public.
Since San Diego County does not release information on where the outbreaks are, Dr. Wilma Wooten advises people to “assume everyone has COVID-19.”
Throughout the pandemic, Wooten has routinely said that she uses science and data to guide her decision making process.
Furthermore, Dr. Wooten confirmed that there have been no reported outbreaks to date at any of our region’s casinos. Indoor operations at casinos have been open for months, and KUSI asked County officials two weeks ago if other businesses could replicate their successful safety protocols so they could reopen as well.
The number of community outbreaks remains well above the county’s goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span, although Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, thanked the public for adhering to health guidelines to significantly reduce those numbers. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households in the past 14 days.
On Monday, county-compiled data related to race and ethnicity on testing, staffing and geographic location will be made available for the first time. Previously, data on race had been broken down by deaths, hospitalizations and case numbers only.
Latinos are still disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, with that ethnic group representing 61.7% of all hospitalizations and 46% of all deaths due to the illness. Latinos make up about 35% of San Diego County’s population.
Wooten revealed a five-tiered testing priority protocol Wednesday that the county has been using. In the top two tiers were symptomatic people separated by risk factors, followed by two tiers of asymptomatic people and finally by a general public health surveillance tier. The county reassessed its testing priorities in mid-July.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Tuesday that the city would begin allowing gyms, fitness businesses and places of worship to operate in city parks beginning Monday.
“There is no city better than San Diego to take advantage of the fact that COVID-19 has a harder time spreading outdoors. Using parks as part of our pandemic relief response will help the mental health and physical health of thousands of San Diegans,” Faulconer said.