County COVID-19 cases, deaths continue growing

Coronavirus

A nurse wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) cares for a COVID-19 patient in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Sharp Memorial Hospital amidst the coronavirus pandemic on May 6, 2020 in San Diego, California. Sharp HealthCare is the largest health system in San Diego County and is currently treating more than 120 COVID-19 patients at its four hospitals. (Mario Tama/Getty Images North America/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – County health authorities Tuesday reported 198 new San Diego-area COVID-19 infections and three more deaths, raising the totals to 11,294 cases and 341 deaths.

Of 6,819 coronavirus tests reported to the county Monday, 3% were positive new cases, officials said.

The three patients whose deaths due to the disease were reported Tuesday were men in their early 60s to mid-70s, two of whom had existing conditions that contributed to the severity of their illnesses, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

Among all of those who have contracted the disease in the San Diego region, 1,639, or 14.5%, have required hospitalization. A total of 454 patients — representing 4.0% of all cases, and 27.7% of hospitalized cases — have had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

The largest daily increase in COVID-19 cases came on Sunday, when 310 people, or 7% of those tested, were reported as positive.

Those types of numbers are concerning to public health officials, who previously had praised San Diego County for avoiding the brunt of the pandemic’s ill effects.

“The message here is very clear,” county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said on Monday. “The dangers from coronavirus are real.”

Another three community outbreaks were reported at the beginning of this workweek, raising the number reported in the last week to 10 — the most in any weekly span since the pandemic began in early March.

Community-transmitted COVID-19 outbreaks activated one of the county’s public health “triggers” on Thursday, placing a pause on any additional openings allowed by the state.

As part of the 13 public health triggers announced earlier this month, the county could take industry-specific actions, pause all reopening efforts or even dial back reopenings if enough of the metrics rise above a certain threshold. The threshold for community outbreaks — defined as three or more lab-confirmed cases from different households — was fewer than seven in a week’s span.

A correlated increase in hospital stays, ICU visits and ventilator usage has not occurred, but Fletcher said those are lagging indicators and are likely to increase if the number of positive cases continues to rise.

County health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, suggesting how long the COVID- 19 pandemic could impact the region, said it may not be safe for people to have gatherings at their homes “until sometime next year.”

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