SAN DIEGO — County leaders reported another high infection rate Monday as Gov. Newsom handed down new restrictions because of surging coronavirus cases state-wide.
San Diego County health officials reported another big jump — 833 new cases — but no additional deaths Monday, bringing the county’s total to 65,501 cases, with the death toll remaining at 926.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher warned at a news conference that the toughest days are ahead.
“We are hoping and praying for the betterment of our whole region that most San Diegans understand that none of us want to be doing the things we are doing, but we don’t have a choice,” Fletcher said.
Monday was the sixth consecutive day that more than 600 new coronavirus cases were reported by the county. The 833 cases reported Monday are the second most the county has announced in a single day during the pandemic, following a record high of 1,087 reported Sunday and a then-record 736 Saturday.
On Wednesday, a then-record 661 cases were reported in the county — surpassing the 652 cases reported Aug. 7. Another 620 cases were reported Thursday.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department announced Monday that 55 of 70 inmates in the 1C module of the George Bailey Detention Facility had tested positive for COVID-19.
“Fifteen tested negative, but are nevertheless being isolated and monitored due to their exposure,” said sheriff’s Lt. Ricardo Lopez. “At this time the outbreak is limited to one module, but is the most significant COVID- related event to date in our jail system.”
“Our population has been stable near 4,000, however, consideration will be given to conducting additional releases if necessary as we continue to monitor our population and the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Fletcher said the increasing case numbers are coinciding with surges in hospitalizations and positivity rates.
“This is a stark reminder that COVID is real, is spreading and must be taken seriously,” Fletcher said Sunday. “At this point, we are pleading with the public to take action to slow the spread: Wear a mask, physically distance, and limit contact with those outside of your household.”
Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, added that in the weeks following Halloween, the record case jump is a warning sign that people “need to follow public health guidance throughout the upcoming holiday season.”
The rapid rise in cases comes as state data has landed the county in the most restrictive tier of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan. The restrictions associated with the purple tier went into effect just after midnight Saturday.
Many nonessential businesses are now required to move to outdoor-only operations. These include restaurants, family entertainment centers, wineries, places of worship, movie theaters, museums, gyms, zoos, aquariums and cardrooms.
The restrictions include closing amusement parks. Bars, breweries and distilleries are able to remain open as long as they are able to operate outside and with food on the same ticket as alcohol.
Retail businesses and shopping centers can remain open with 25% of the building’s capacity. No food courts will be permitted.
There have been mixed messages from leaders as some elected officials have suggested ignoring health orders.
“I know folks are tired, but this is the point between now and the end of the year where we have to summon that ability to come together as a community and fight COVID. Not each other, not the governor, not public health orders put in place to keep us safe — COVID,” Fletcher said.
With a vaccine seemingly just a few months off, Fletcher said people need to be patient to get through this pandemic safely.
Schools are able to remain open for in-person learning if they are already in session. If a district has not reopened for in-person learning, it must remain remote only. Offices are restricted to remote work.
Remaining open are essential services, personal care services, barbershops, hair salons, outdoor playgrounds and recreational facilities.
The county’s demotion from the less-restrictive red tier is the result of two weeks of case rates that exceeded the threshold of 7 per 100,000 residents.
In recent weeks, the region had an unadjusted rate well above the purple tier guidelines, but a significant effort to increase the volume of tests had allowed for an adjustment to bring it back to the red, or substantial, tier.
In response to rising cases statewide, Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed more restrictive guidelines on Monday that pushed the vast majority of California counties into the restrictive purple tier.
Of the total number of cases in the county, 4,212 — or 6.4% — have required hospitalization and 960 patients — or 1.5% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.