REGION — San Diego County public health authorities reported over 300 new COVID-19 cases for the fourth time in five days as the case total in the county neared the 12,d000 mark.
Health officials reported 335 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday — a new daily high and the third new high mark in a week — and five deaths, raising the county totals to 11,961 cases and 347 deaths.
After 310, 302 and 332 new cases were reported on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday — representing an above-average percentage of positive cases to total tests performed — the numbers rose yet again Thursday, with 4% of tests returning positive. The county reported 9,472 tests Thursday.
The five deaths reported Thursday were five men who died between June 16 and 23, ranging in age from their early 40s to early 80s — all of whom had underlying health conditions.
A “modest uptick” in the number of hospitalizations and ICU visits also has officials worried.
“The sense of community we brought together at the beginning of this to slow the spread is the same one we need to summon now,” County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Wednesday. “It’s natural to see the spread when things start to reopen. What we want to avoid is an exponential spread.”
Fletcher said individual choices to do everything possible to prevent the spread would be vital in coming weeks. Frequent hand washing, wearing facial coverings in public and maintaining social distancing would all continue to make the difference in how quickly the illness makes its way through the community.
Among those who have contracted the disease in the San Diego region, 1,687 — or 14.1% — have required hospitalization. A total of 461 patients — representing 3.9% of all cases, and 27.3% of hospitalized cases — have been admitted to an intensive care unit.
Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said a significant spike in cases could be traced to the periods following restaurants opening, churches allowing services, and the mass protests calling for police reform.
“These could influence cases going forward for days, weeks or months,” she said Wednesday.
Another community outbreak was reported Thursday in a business, raising the number reported in the last week to seven — above the threshold the county set in a set of 13 “triggers” announced earlier this month.
Community-transmitted COVID-19 outbreaks activated one of those triggers last Thursday, placing a pause on any additional openings allowed by the state.
The county could take industry-specific actions, pause all reopening efforts or even dial back reopenings if enough of the metrics rise above a certain threshold. The threshold for community outbreaks — defined as three or more lab-confirmed cases from different households — was fewer than seven in a week’s span.
Wooten, suggesting how long the COVID-19 pandemic could impact the region, said it may not be safe for people to have gatherings at their homes “until sometime next year.”