Photo by KPBS Staff
Above: A sign for free COVID-19 testing is pictured in San Diego, Oct. 6, 2020.
San Diego County public health officials Saturday reported a record-high 1,478 new COVID-19 infections and six new deaths, raising the region's totals to 70,709 cases and 966 deaths.
Saturday was the 11th consecutive day more than 600 new coronavirus cases were reported by the county, and the most in a single day. Last Saturday, 1,087 cases were reported, 922 were reported Wednesday, 899 Thursday and 1,091 Friday.
County health officials are attributing the sharp increase in cases to a general fatigue of the pandemic and are urging San Diegans to avoid gatherings and take COVID-19 seriously.
"The virus is widespread and every element of our community is impacted," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "Now more than ever it is vital that San Diegans avoid gatherings and crowds, wear a face covering when they are out in public and stay home if they are sick."
On Nov. 11, a then-record 661 cases were reported, surpassing the 652 cases reported Aug. 7. Another 620 cases were reported Nov. 12.
A total of 34,021 tests — a new record — were reported Friday and 3% of those came back positive, dropping the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 4.7%
The number of COVID-19 cases in the hospital continues to rise, with 440 currently hospitalized in the county and 127 in intensive care — nearly double the numbers a month ago.
Wooten said anyone hosting a gathering should keep it small, short and safe.
Gatherings should be limited to a maximum of three stable households. Short meaning the gathering should last two hours or less. Safe meaning that people should stay outdoors as much as possible and wear a face covering when they are not eating or drinking.
Of the total number of cases in the county Wednesday, 4,329 — or 6.3% — have required hospitalization and 981 patients — or 1.4% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.
Eleven new community outbreaks were confirmed Friday, three in business settings, three in faith-based settings, two in childcare settings, one in a TK-12 school setting, one in a restaurant/bar setting and one in a gym setting. 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.
County officials announced Thursday law enforcement will step up COVID- 19 compliance protocols, including education and citations, amid spiking coronavirus cases.
Sheriff Bill Gore said Thursday four two-deputy teams will begin making "a full-time commitment" to the county's 18 cities and unincorporated areas, ensuring compliance with public health orders. Several cities have already confirmed they will send officers to assist deputies in their duties, Gore said.
The county has issued 52 cease-and-desist orders since Monday, including five Thursday to Alliance MMA and Functional Republic, both in Chula Vista, Crunch Fitness in Serra Mesa, The Element Dance Center in La Mesa and IB Fitness in Imperial Beach. Residents can report egregious violations of the health order on the county complaint line at 858-694-2900 or email SafeReopeningComplianceTeam@sdcounty.ca.gov.
Gore said deputies would not be going door-to-door but, rather, follow up on complaints. Education about public health orders will be the first method used, Gore said. Citations could follow.
"The bottom line is wear those damn masks out there and social- distance," he said.
The announcement about increased enforcement measures came on the day Gov. Gavin Newsom announced California counties in the state's "purple" tier will be subject to a curfew prohibiting all "nonessential" activities and gatherings between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
The "limited Stay At Home Order" applies to all counties in the most restrictive tier of the state's coronavirus monitoring system, purple, which includes Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. The order will take effect at 10 p.m. Saturday and remain in effect until 5 a.m. Dec. 21.
California updated its four-tier COVID-19 reopening statistics Monday, with San Diego County among those sinking further into the purple tier of the state's four-tier economic reopening roadmap.
The county had a rate of 12.1 new daily coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents, an increase of 2.1 compared to last week. The state-adjusted daily case rate increased to 10.7 per 100,000 population from 8.7 last week.
The region has an adjusted rate due to a significant effort to increase the volume of testing. The county officially entered the purple tier and its associated restrictions just after midnight Saturday.
San Diego County's rate of positive tests increased from 2.6% last week to 4.3% Tuesday. The health equity metric, which looks at the testing positivity for areas with the least healthy conditions, remained steady at 6.5%.
In response to rising cases statewide, Newsom on Monday pushed the vast majority of California counties into the purple tier.
With purple-tier restrictions in place, many nonessential businesses were 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.
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