County records 578 new COVID-19 cases, 12 more deaths

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – After two weeks of rising COVID-19 cases, San Diego County public health officials Tuesday halted all indoor operations in businesses such as bars, restaurants, museums, zoos, cardrooms, theaters and family entertainment centers.

The county reported 578 COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths, raising the region’s totals to 17,578 cases and 399 deaths.

Of 5,530 tests reported Tuesday, 10% were positive. The 14-day rolling average of positive tests is now at 5.9%.

Of the 12 deaths, five men and seven women died. They ranged in age from the late 40s to early 90s and all but one had underlying health conditions.

Additionally, five new community-based outbreaks were reported Tuesday — in a restaurant, two bars, a grocery store and another business. The number of community outbreaks over the last week is now at 22, well over the county metric of seven outbreaks in seven days. A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting from different households.

More than 75% of the community outbreaks have been traced to restaurants and bars.

For the new public health order restrictions put in place Tuesday, outdoor dining will still be permitted for restaurants, as will delivery and takeout. The restrictions will be in place for at least three weeks.

Breweries and pubs serving food must stop all on-site consumption, whether that be indoor or outdoor, but are allowed to remain open for curbside service of food and beverages, County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said. Wineries and distilleries can have outdoor service. Officials did not clarify why the distinction was made between the alcohol-producing businesses.

“We must slow the spread of coronavirus now to allow our economy to open and thrive,” Fletcher said.

“Modest adjustments” like the ones announced Monday could help prevent full-scale closures once again, he said.

The changes are in line with restrictions imposed last week by Gov. Gavin Newsom on counties on the state’s coronavirus monitoring list, which now includes 23 counties. San Diego County was added to that list Friday, primarily due to the region’s rising rate of cases per 100,000 residents. San Diego County reported 129.3 cases per 100,000 on Monday, well above the state’s metric of 100 per 100,000.

Counties on the list were ordered to close all bars, a move San Diego County had already taken ahead of the holiday weekend.

San Diego County was the final county in Southern California to be placed on the state’s monitoring list.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said Monday that more bad news is likely coming.

“Deaths lag behind hospitalizations, which lag behind cases,” she said, comparing the pattern to what health officials see with seasonal influenza.

San Diego County health officials reported 1,030 positive COVID-19 cases over the weekend. On Friday, 468 new cases were reported and another 562 were reported Saturday. The new health orders came as officials reported 274 new cases Monday, the fewest reported since June 22.

As of Tuesday, cases requiring hospitalization totaled 1,923 or 10.9% of cases and hospitalized cases admitted to an intensive care unit totaled 517 or 2.9% of cases.

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