SAN DIEGO (CNS) – San Diego County officials told the public Friday that efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 were working, but focus was slipping, which could undo the region’s progress.
The county reported 71 new cases of the novel coronavirus Friday and seven additional deaths, raising the county numbers to 2,158 cases and 70 deaths.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said even with the updated numbers, members of the public were largely doing their part to avoid spreading the illness.
He cited data from a mobility tracker, which analyzes how often people travel to certain locations, and found that people are traveling more than they were a week ago. This could be an aberration or a sign that people are taking stay-at-home orders less seriously, he said.
Travel to retail grocery stores and pharmacies increased by 11% of the pre-COVID-19 baseline, which Fletcher said might be expected as people may no longer be stockpiling groceries and thus needed to shop more often. However, transit station visits jumped by 6%, retail visits by 5% and park visits by 2%.
“We’re seeing this slippage,” he said. “I encourage you to hold fast.”
How long people are expected to hold fast is up for debate, but County Chairman Greg Cox, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other officials from around the region will soon convene the San Diego Economic Recovery Advisory Group to lay out a plan to reopen the county post-pandemic.
“This group will focus not on the `when’ but on the `how,”‘ Cox said. “It will be guided by medical data.”
Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego’s Public Health Officer, said any plan to reopen the region would begin by meeting a set of metrics similar to that set by the state of California, including declining test percentages — the county and local hospitals are still returning around 93% of all tests negative — and declining incidences of flu-like illnesses in local emergency departments.
“We’re not there yet,” she said. “I use the word `yet’ because if we lessen up, we could lose ground. We are not there yet, but we have made a tremendous stride and effort and we are getting there.”
Friday’s deaths include three women — one in her early 60s and two in their early 90s — and four men, one in his late 50s, another in his mid- 60s and two in their mid-70s.
The county has now tested more than 30,000 individuals for COVID-19.
The number of hospitalizations increased to 524, an increase of 17 from Thursday. There have been 181 patients treated in intensive care units, the county reported. That number has not changed from Thursday’s report, the first time that has been true in several weeks. Fletcher said the county estimates that 1,042 people have recovered from the illness, nearly half the total number of cases.
Fletcher said the county’s “doubling rate” for hospitalizations was 12 days; ICU admittance was 18 days; and the days it would take to double the number of deaths was 7. The data is a five-day average model with outlier “smoothing” to give a better picture of the county’s situation.
Of the deaths in which race/ethnicity was tracked, 53% were white, 36% Latino and 6.9% Asian. Race or ethnicity has not been established in 12 deaths.
Wooten confirmed one new community outbreak — defined as three or more cases that can be traced back to one location and/or incident — raising the county outbreak total to 36, tied to 397 cases and 41 deaths.
Fletcher reported COVID-19 tests have begun at the San Diego Convention Center, with a trial run of 53 tests completed Thursday. Of those, 34 were negative and 19 are still pending.
Family Health Centers of San Diego, San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency and the city of San Diego will offer the free and voluntary tests to 150 people each day until everyone housed in the convention center has been tested for the respiratory illness.