SAN DIEGO (CNS) – County health officials reported 75 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths Thursday, raising the totals to 2,087 cases and 63 deaths.
Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, reported that the latest deaths involved women in their late 30s and late 70s and a man in his early 50s. All had underlying medical conditions, she said.
The county has now tested more than 29,000 individuals for COVID-19, and around 96% of those tested negative for the virus.
The number of hospitalizations increased to 507, with 181 of those patients being treated in intensive care units. Those numbers represent increases of 19 and eight, respectively, from Wednesday.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county’s “doubling rate” for hospitalizations was 12.6 days; ICU admittance was 15.3 days; and the days it would take to double the number of deaths was 7.6. He said future data would include a five-day model with outlier “smoothing” to give a better picture of San Diego County’s situation.
County health officials reported that 903 positive-testing individuals have recovered, an increase of 222 from Wednesday.
Of positive-testing individuals, 24.3% have been hospitalized and 8.7% have been sent to an ICU. The county’s death rate for those testing positive for the illness is 3%. All three percentages remain steady from Wednesday’s figures.
Of the deaths in which race/ethnicity was tracked, 52% were white, 36% Latino, 8% Asian, 2% Pacific Islander and 2% multiple races, with race or ethnicity not established in 13 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 34, tied to 37 deaths.
Meanwhile, Fletcher on Thursday reported another confirmed case in a homeless individual, raising positive tests in that population to 15, on the same day that city and county health officials began COVID-19 testing for people being temporarily housed in the San Diego Convention Center.
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.
“This preemptive testing will identify and contain the virus earlier if it is present, helping staff respond proactively and get people into treatment sooner,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “Anyone experiencing homelessness who comes into the convention center will receive health monitoring and treatment that’s critical to both their personal well-being and the health of the broader community.”
Fletcher said the tests will be done to ensure the privacy of individuals, and positive-testing shelter residents will be quickly isolated before being transported to a public health hotel room where they can recuperate.
Father Joe’s Villages reported Thursday morning it had moved many clients to the convention center from the now-vacant Golden Hall and had reduced the number of beds at shelters it operates to increase social distancing.
Authorities Thursday were continuing to release inmates without bail in compliance with a state order to reduce prison populations in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department was expected to release about 400 inmates without bail between Wednesday and Thursday, according to Sheriff Bill Gore.
Nearly 1,200 inmates incarcerated for nonviolent misdemeanors or with fewer than 60 days remaining on their sentences have been released early from county facilities, reducing the county inmate population from 5,600 to roughly 4,400.
The new “Zero Bail” emergency order, adopted by the Judicial Council of California last week, stipulated that by 5 p.m. Wednesday, all inmates not charged with a serious or violent offense had to be released or be in the process of being released with no bail. Gore said Wednesday that he had 500 inmates fitting that description.
One caveat to the order is that if the prosecuting attorney seeks to increase an inmate’s bail amount, they will remain incarcerated, which Gore said applied to around 100 inmates.
The sheriff expressed concerns with the sweeping scale of the order, claiming his staff have done a “responsible job” reducing jail populations and preventing the spread of the virus. Some of his office’s measures include “enhanced screenings” at county facilities and placing a temporary ban on visitors and contractors at the same facilities.
Gore said only three cases have been reported in county inmates, two of which have been released. The third inmate to contract the virus remains in custody.