SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego County officials reported 82 new cases of COVID-19 today and seven additional deaths, raising the county's totals to 2,012 cases and 60 deaths.
The seven new victims all had underlying health conditions according to San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten. Their ages and genders break down as follows:
- One female who was 100 years old.
- Two females who were in their 80s.
- Four males who ranged in age from their mid-60s to mid-90s.
Authorities also announced the release of hundreds of inmates to lighten the jail population amid the pandemic.
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department was expected to release approximately 400 inmates without bail Wednesday and Thursday in compliance with a state order to reduce prison populations to prevent the spread of COVID- 19, Sheriff Bill Gore said.
Nearly 1,200 inmates incarcerated for nonviolent misdemeanors or with fewer than 60 days remaining on their sentences have been released early from county facilities, reducing the county inmate population from 5,600 to 4,400.
The new "Zero Bail" emergency order, adopted by the Judicial Council of California last week, stipulates that by 5 p.m. Wednesday, all inmates not charged with a serious or violent offense be released or be in the process of being released with no bail. Gore said he had 500 inmates fitting that description.
One caveat to the order is that if the prosecuting attorney seeks to increase an inmate's bail amount, they will remain incarcerated. Gore said this applied to around 100 inmates.
The sheriff expressed concerns with the sweeping scale of the order, claiming his facilities have done a "responsible job" reducing jail populations and preventing the spread of the virus. Some of his office's measures include "enhanced screenings" at county facilities and placing a temporary ban on visitors and contractors at the same facilities.
Gore said only three cases have been reported in county inmates, two of which have been released. The remaining case remains in custody.
Hospitalizations from COVID-19 increased to 488 since the pandemic first hit San Diego County, 173 of which have been sent to the intensive care unit. Those numbers represent increases of 38 and nine, respectively, from Tuesday.
County health officials estimate 681 positive-testing individuals have recovered since their initial tests, an increase of 108 from Tuesday. The county and the region's 23 hospitals have completed 27,884 tests, around 93% of which are returning negative.
Of positive-testing individuals, 24.3% have been hospitalized and 8.6% have been sent to the ICU. The county's death rate for those testing positive for the illness is 3%. All three percentages have been increasing steadily over the last week.
Of the deaths in which race/ethnicity was tracked, 52.2% were white, 37% Latino, 8.7% Asian and 2.2% multiple races. There are still 14 deaths as of yet unidentified by race or ethnicity.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher confirmed another confirmed case in a homeless individual. Wooten confirmed two new community outbreaks Wednesday, raising the county outbreak total to 33, tied to 233 cases and 23 deaths.
Rolf Benirschke, CEO of Legacy Health Strategies and former San Diego Charger, also spoke at Wednesday's briefing about a social media campaign he launched encouraging people to "get off the field and stay on the bench." Benirschke showed clips of messages from former and current San Diego sports figures including Trevor Hoffman, Dave Roberts, Mark Loretta, Wally Joyner, Buddy Black, Ed White, Brad Ausmus, and Phil Nevin promoting the hashtag #StayOnTheBenchSD.
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According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, as with any other respiratory illness:
Know how it spreads
There is no vaccine
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus
It is thought to spread mainly from person-person between people in close contact
And believed to be spread by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes
Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds
If soap and water aren't available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Put distance between yourselves and others
Stay home when you are sick
Wear a facemask if you are sick
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
If you don't have tissue, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow
Immediately wash your hands after coughing and sneezing
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
You can find information on disinfecting and cleaning on the CDC's How to Protect Yourself page.
The California Department of Public Health has issued guidance on the use of cloth face coverings to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
The County of San Diego has made face coverings mandatory for those working with the public including grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and similar businesses.
While officials say these face coverings are not a substitute for practices like social distancing and handwashing, there is evidence to suggest that the use of cloth face coverings by the public during a pandemic could help reduce disease transmission. Officials do not recommend the public use N-95 or surgical masks which are needed by health care workers and first responders.