San Diego County reports 253 new coronavirus cases, 3 deaths

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) –  County health officials reported 253 new COVID-19 cases and three new deaths Sunday, raising the region’s totals to 38,300 cases and 682 deaths, as some local businesses prepared to re-open indoor operations Monday.

Three men in their 80s died. All three had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 5,360 tests reported, 5% returned positive. This is one of the two criteria now being used by the state to loosen or tighten restrictions on activities.

The 14-day rolling average of positive tests is 3.7%, well below the state’s 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 6,775.

Of the total positive cases, 3,099 — or 8.1% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 750 — or 2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

County health officials reported two new community outbreaks as of Saturday, bringing the number of outbreaks in the past week to 19. One outbreak was in a health care setting and one in a business setting.

The number of community outbreaks remains well above the county’s goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households in the past 14 days

Gov. Gavin Newsom released a new state system Friday that sorts counties into one of four tiers based on the extent of the area’s COVID-19 outbreak,

Restaurants, places of worship, movie theaters and museums will be allowed starting Monday to maintain up to 25% occupancy or 100 people — whichever is less. Gyms may operate with 10% occupancy. Hair salons, barbershops and nail salons may operate indoors with normal capacity.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said the county would follow state guidelines that indicate retail businesses are to be restricted to 50% occupancy.

All indoor businesses must still abide by social distancing- and face- covering mandates, as well as having a detailed safe reopening plan on file with the county.

Wooten said San Diego County had made it to “tier 2,” the only county in Southern California to earn that designation. The county still has a “substantial” COVID-19 presence, but unlike Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles and Imperial counties it is not considered “widespread.”

The two metrics the state was monitoring in that tier list include an old one — the percentage of positive tests — and a new one — the number of daily new cases per 100,000 people. San Diego County is at 3.8% and 5.8 per 100,000 respectively. To make it to the next tier, the county must show rates of between 2% and 4.9% positive tests and between 1 and 3.9 new daily cases per 100,000 population.

Because the county currently exceeds one of those numbers, it cannot start its path to the next tier.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said he felt the county was moving too quickly to reopen and should take a more measured response.

“My concerns are with the size, scope and speed of what is being reopened on Monday,” he said. “While there are some lower risk entities that could safely reopen at this point, what we are doing is very similar to what we did in June with a large segment of indoor operations all opening at the same time. This led to a large increase in cases and required new restrictions.

“But even though I prefer a different path, the decision has been made and I will continue to work tirelessly to help us find a way to slow the spread, support our schools, and continue to help our community through this difficult time,” Fletcher said.

According to Wooten, there is a 21-day mandatory wait time before any county can move between tiers, and a county must meet the metrics for the next tier for two straight weeks. Also, a county may only move one tier at a time.

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