142 new COVID-19 cases, 5 more deaths reported in San Diego County


SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The number of COVID-19 cases in San Diego County approached 8,000 Thursday as public health officials reported 142 new cases and five deaths.

The new data raises the total county cases to 7,940 and the deaths in the region to 288.

A total of 3,714 tests were reported Thursday, with around 4% of those testing positive for the respiratory illness. The county’s rolling 14-day average of positive tests is 2.9% and has been trending slowly downward for several weeks.

Of those testing positive, 17.4%, or 1,383, have been hospitalized and 5%, or 395, have been admitted to an intensive care unit.

Of the five deaths reported Thursday, four were men and one was a woman. Their ages ranged from 38 to 91, and all but one had an underlying medical condition.

On Wednesday, San Diego County public health officials gave residents a glimpse of actions the county could take if COVID-19 cases begin to spike as a result of public demonstrations and newly opened industries, up to and including dialing back reopenings.

The county’s rolling average of positive tests has hit a plateau over the last several weeks, and other numbers are “trending in the right direction,” according to Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s public health officer.

But with thousands taking to the streets protesting last week’s in- custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and with restaurants and other industries continuing to open locally, health officials revealed a backup plan Wednesday.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher identified 13 “triggers” that could cause the county to take industry-specific actions, pause all reopening efforts or even dial back reopenings. These triggers are divided into three categories: epidemiology and public health, with four triggers each — and healthcare, with five.

According to Fletcher, the county is currently in “green” in all 13 measurements.

However, if the county records seven or more community-based outbreaks in seven days, sees the intensive care bed availability come close to 20% of the total or if personal protective equipment at half the county’s hospitals drop below a 15-day supply for three consecutive days, the county will take immediate action.

“Any one of these criteria could force us to take action,” Fletcher said, adding that if the county triggers one of the guidelines in two of the three categories, it would also be forced to act.

“It’s complicated, but it gives us our best and clearest sense of where we are,” he said.

Also Wednesday, Fletcher said the county planned to move forward once it got directions from the state. Once the county gets the “how” of reopening further, local county health officials will decide the when, he said.

On Tuesday, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors sent a request to Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow them to reopen facilities such as gymnasiums, hotels and cultural venues closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The board voted 4-1 to approve sending the request, which also includes seeking more leeway to allow the reopening of wineries, breweries, churches, theme parks, youth sports facilities, charter and fishing boats and public swimming pools.

The Board of Supervisors also voted Tuesday to extend a moratorium on evictions for both residents and small businesses for another month, through June 30th.

Fletcher, along with board Chairman Greg Cox, made the request, which was unanimously approved. The board first approved an eviction moratorium in late March.

“By extending the moratorium, we are giving families and business owners another tool to assist in their recovery from the pandemic,” Fletcher said.

Cox said, “This is not an effort to provide free rent. It’s really an encouragement for tenants, landlords, to work together on a payment plan.”

Fletcher added that people who qualify for the moratorium have to prove economic hardship caused by the pandemic.

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