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A total of 104 outbreaks of the illness have been tracked since the pandemic reached San Diego, with 54 of those still active. Courtesy photo
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San Diego County COVID-19 case total nears 10,000

REGION — The COVID-19 case total in San Diego County is creeping toward the 10,000 mark as another set of businesses prepare to reopen on Friday.

County health officials reported 120 new COVID-19 cases and three deaths from the illness on Tuesday.

The new data raise the county’s totals to 9,730 cases and 323 deaths. The three deaths were women ranging in age from their late 60s to early 90s and all had underlying health conditions.

A total of 4,838 COVID-19 tests were reported Tuesday, with 2% testing positive. The rolling 14-day average for positive tests remains 2.9%.

Among those testing positive, a total of 1,543 cases in the county have required hospitalization and 432 had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

Personal care businesses like skincare and waxing salons, tattoo parlors, massage therapists and nail salons are preparing for a Friday reopening.

Updated county health orders took effect Tuesday allowing public, charter and private schools — but not colleges and universities — to hold on-campus classes as long as they comply with measures outlined by the California Department of Public Health.

Those measures include face coverings required for teachers at all times and strongly recommended for students, daily temperature checks for students and staff, increased emphasis on hand washing and sanitizing, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting in the classrooms and setting up classrooms to allow for increased physical distance between students.

Each school must complete and post a document detailing the actions the school is taking to comply with the industry guidance issued by the state.

Southwestern College has allowed students in medical-related fields such as EMT, paramedic and nursing programs to return to in-person classes.

Outdoor religious services were allowed starting Monday without restrictions on the number of worshippers, so long as social distancing is maintained.

These actions follow a weekend in which bars reopened and hundreds of people — many not wearing facial coverings — were captured on social media, seen milling around outside bars in the Gaslamp District.

“The virus is still out there,” County Supervisor Greg Cox warned. “We must continue to be vigilant.”

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said 13 California counties are struggling to keep metrics at a manageable level, and he doesn’t want San Diego County to go down that path. Arizona has seen a dramatic spike in cases of COVID-19 — the disease caused by the coronavirus — with more than 7,300 new cases in the last five days.

“I can’t predict what is going to happen, but we will see increased cases as we open up,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer.

A total of 104 outbreaks of the illness have been tracked since the pandemic reached San Diego, with 54 of those still active. Of those, 18 are in skilled nursing facilities, 22 are in other congregate facilities and 13 are outbreaks in community settings.

Health officials continue to monitor 13 potential “triggers” which could cause the county to take industry-specific actions, pause all reopening efforts, or even dial back reopenings. The county remains “green” on 12 of 13 triggers. The only one in which San Diego County is not meeting metrics is the “case count” growth. The metric is 8% growth per week, and San Diego County has seen its cases increase by 18%, which Wooten said is attributable to increased testing.

Another of those 13 triggers would be having seven recorded community outbreaks within a week.

Wooten said Friday the county has recorded five community outbreaks of the illness in the past week. Past community outbreaks have included church meetings, parties and a wedding.

“We had only about three community outbreaks in the month of May,” she said.

One newly reported outbreak originated from a restaurant. The outbreak remains under investigation, and Wooten said she could not immediately share additional information.

The county has launched a new interactive website that will allow residents to find COVID-19 testing locations near them. The website can be found at 211sandiego.org.

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