San Diego County Sees 6 Coronavirus Outbreaks In 7 Days

From City News Service

San Diego County reported 124 new COVID-19 cases and four additional deaths from the illness Wednesday, as public health officials announced two additional testing sites.

The new data increased the region's totals to 9,854 cases and 327 deaths. The cases reported Wednesday were just 2% of the new daily high 6,782 tests. New testing sites at the Spring Valley Library on Kempton Road and the Mira Mesa Senior Center in Mira Mesa Boulevard join nearly a dozen other sites where county residents can get tested for free.

The county launched an interactive website earlier this week that allows residents to find COVID-19 testing locations near them. The website can be found at 211sandiego.org.

Despite the low numbers of positive tests, officials are urging residents to take the pandemic and facial coverings seriously, particularly as a new wave of businesses — personal care businesses like skincare and waxing salons, tattoo parlors, massage therapists and nail salons — will be allowed to reopen Friday.

"We've seen and heard comments from people who are tired of wearing facial coverings," County Supervisor Greg Cox said. "Covering your face is one of the easiest things we can do right now."

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher echoed Cox's sentiments, citing "spikes and surges" in other states as well as hospitalization rates jumping in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

"It's a powerful reminder to us that the danger is still here," he said. "Masks don't take any freedom away from you, masks give you the freedom to get back out there doing things. They are a temporary, minor inconvenience."

"If an ICU nurse can wear a mask for a 16-hour shift, I've got to believe we can wear one for 16 minutes when we go to the grocery store," Fletcher said.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, reported several new community outbreaks — defined as at least three cases traced to one location — and the last seven days have seen six such outbreaks, one shy of "triggering" a setback in the county's reopening plans.

Health officials continue to monitor 13 potential triggers that 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 11%, an aberration Wooten said is attributable to increased testing.

Of the six outbreaks in the past week, two are tied to restaurants, three in other businesses and one to a residence.

A total of 106 outbreaks of the illness have been tracked since the pandemic reached San Diego, with more than half currently inactive. Past community outbreaks have included church meetings, parties and a wedding.

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