San Diego County Surpasses 75,000 COVID-19 Cases, Nears 1,000 Deaths

Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: A sign with information about a COVID-19 nurse line is taped to the side of a food truck in South Park. Nov. 12, 2020.

San Diego County public health officials reported 944 COVID-19 infections and four deaths Wednesday, raising the region’s totals to 75,305 cases and 988 deaths.

Four men died between Nov. 14 and Nov. 22, and their ages ranged from late 50s to mid-80s. All had underlying medical conditions.

It is the 15th consecutive day that more than 600 new cases were reported, following a record-high 1,546 cases Tuesday.

The previous one-day case record was set Saturday, when 1,478 new COVID-19 cases were logged, topping the previous record of 1,091 set Friday. On Sunday, 939 new cases were reported.

A total of 20,738 tests were reported Wednesday and 5% of those came back positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 5.3%.

Of the total number of cases in the county Wednesday, 4,470 — or 5.9% — have required hospitalization and 1,006 patients — or 1.3% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

A total of 10 new community outbreaks were confirmed Wednesday, four in business settings, two in restaurant/bar settings, one in a government setting, one in a distribution warehouse setting, one in a retail setting and one in a higher education setting. Over the previous seven days, 76 community outbreaks were confirmed. A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

Matt Doyle, superintendent of Vista Unified School District, announced Tuesday night his district will shift all middle and high schools to virtual instruction until after the winter break, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 18. In- person supplemental learning support for specific student populations based on individual needs will continue. The district will also maintain all athletic activities in preparation for the upcoming season unless otherwise adjusted by California Interscholastic Federation directives. All elementary schools will continue to provide in-person instruction.

“The reason for this period of pause is based on the recent escalation of the spread of the COVID-19 virus globally, nationally, regionally, and locally,” Doyle said.

RELATED: Coronavirus: Tracking Cases And Mapping By ZIP Code

“Based on verifiable data, the pandemic is expanding at a dramatic pace in San Diego County and within the five zip codes of our own community. While Vista Unified has seen no evidence of the virus spreading within the school environment after 26 days of instruction in the Vista Classic learning model, the impact of the virus within our community is causing staffing challenges for teachers, instructional assistants, custodians, and other employees,” he said.

The Vista Unified School Board will meet Dec. 15 to discuss future plans for the district.

San Diego County fell deeper into the most restrictive purple tier of the state’s four-tiered reopening plan Tuesday with an unadjusted 21.5 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. Even with an adjusted rate of 13.1 per 100,000 due to significant testing increases by local health authorities, that number far exceeds the strictest tier’s baseline of seven daily cases per 100,000.

The testing positivity percentage is 3.1%, placing it in Tier 3 or the Orange Tier for that metric.

The county’s health equity metric, which looks at the testing positivity for areas with the lowest healthy conditions, is 9.3% and is in the Purple Tier. This metric does not move counties to more restrictive tiers but is required to advance to a less restrictive tier.

San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten advised caution as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches.

“There should be a small number of people and gatherings should be short in duration,” she said. “We are asking people to please follow the public health guidance to provide a safe experience for everyone attending the gathering.”

Three no-appointment COVID-19 testing sites will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day:

— Cal State University San Marcos, 333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Road;

— Tubman-Chavez Community Center, 415 Euclid Ave.; and

— University of San Diego former recycling center, 5330 Linda Vista Road.

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