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San Diego County inches closer to reinstated business closures

REGION — Newly released state data shows San Diego County is regressing in its fight against COVID-19, with the number of new cases per 100,000 people reaching 6.9 and the percentage of positive tests at 4.2%, perilously close to slipping into the “widespread” tier like much of the rest of the state.

The county is in Tier 2 or the “substantial” tier, the state’s second most strict. With a slight bump in new cases per 100,000, San Diego could find itself closing recently opened businesses.

The numbers for the widespread tier — which every other Southern California county besides Orange County finds itself in — are 7 or more new cases per 100,000 and more than 8% positive testing. Just one of those above guidelines could be enough to push a county up a tier.

California releases its county data on Tuesdays.

San Diego County public health officials reported 211 new COVID-19 infections and two additional deaths Tuesday, raising the cumulative totals for the region to 41,077 cases and 709 deaths.

A woman in her mid-90s died Aug. 22 and a man in his late 80s died Aug. 26. Both had underlying medical conditions.

Of 4,727 tests reported, 4% returned positive, lowering the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 4.3%, well below the state’s 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 6,775.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,232 — or 7.9% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 779 — or 1.9% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

County health officials reported five new community outbreaks on Monday and Tuesday, bringing the number of outbreaks in the past week to 22.

Three of the outbreaks were in a business setting, one in a restaurant/bar and one in a restaurant.

The number of community outbreaks remains well above the county’s goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households in the past 14 days.

San Diego State University reported another 110 confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases Tuesday within the on- and off-campus student population.

Approximately 75% of students testing positive are living in off-campus housing not managed by the university, with 73% coming among freshmen and sophomore students.

The latest cases raise the university’s total caseload to 396 since fall semester began Aug. 24.

The university announced over the weekend it has extended its stay-at-home order for students through Monday amid rising COVID-19 cases within the student population.

The order asking students to stay in their current residences, except for essential needs, was originally set to expire at 6 a.m. Tuesday, but will remain in effect through 9 a.m. Monday.

Violations of the order may result in disciplinary consequences, the college said.

On Friday, San Diego County public health officials confirmed multiple clusters of COVID-19 cases within the university community among students.

This includes the previously announced off-campus outbreak last Wednesday.

None of the cases under investigation are related to on-campus educational activities, including classes or labs, according to the university. All of the university’s in-person classes — which SDSU President Adela de la Torre said comprised just 7% of all courses — were moved online last Wednesday. SDSU also paused all on-campus athletics training and workouts for two weeks starting last Thursday due to COVID-19.

The university announced some very limited courses will be made available in person starting Thursday. Most of these courses have eight or fewer students.

Luke Wood, SDSU’s vice president for student affairs and campus diversity, said the university was working with a security company to enforce public health code regulations and had issued a total of 457 student violations through Friday afternoon.

Wood said the most serious of these violations could result in suspension or expulsion from the university. Some organizations have been cited as well. Wood said the majority of these were fraternities or sororities.