COVID-19 outbreaks remain above trigger threshold, county officials warn

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SAN DIEGO — County health officials said Monday that one of the triggers preventing them from reopening more businesses and events during the COVID-19 pandemic has remained at a concerning level for the past five days.

That trigger is the number of community outbreaks of COVID-19. County officials reported three new outbreaks Monday, bringing the number of new outbreaks reported in the last seven days to 10. The trigger level for community outbreaks is seven. That trigger first was reached in the county last Thursday, officials said.

The three latest outbreaks were reported at businesses, said Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Eric McDonald. One business is in the construction industry; another is a retail manufacturing company; and the third is a retail store, he said.

In each of the new outbreaks, 10 or fewer employees tested positive for COVID-19, he said.

Officials said they planned to hold off reopening additional businesses, but they had no plans to shut down any of the businesses that recently have reopened.

County officials reported that 5,831 coronaviruses tests had been processed since Sunday. Of those, 302 patients, or 5%, tested positive for COVID-19 cases, bringing the county case total to 11,096. The number of deaths remained unchanged at 338.

Of the patients who died, 320 had underlying medical conditions that contributed to their deaths. Seventeen case had no known underlying medical conditions. In one case, it is not known if there were underlying medical conditions.

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

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

The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive tests is 2.9%.

As of Monday, the number of cases requiring hospitalization totaled 1,627 and the number admitted to intensive care units was 451.

Personal care businesses such as skin care and waxing salons, tattoo parlors, massage therapists and nail salons were allowed by the county to reopen Friday.

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,” a far cry from the mid- March hopes of flattening the curve and ending the pandemic.

“With the reopenings, people think we can go back to the pre-COVID existence, and we cannot,” she said.

The county launched an interactive website early last week that allows residents to find COVID-19 testing locations near them.

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