4 ‘Community Outbreaks' of COVID-19 in San Diego in 7 Days: Fletcher

The latest community outbreaks of COVID-19 in San Diego County stem from a local restaurant and an office building, health officials said

NBC 5 News

San Diego County public health officials have identified four new “community outbreaks” of COVID-19 over the past seven days, including one in a local restaurant.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said two outbreaks had been identified by public health officials Friday, as well as three on Wednesday. The outbreaks were traced to places where people have “congregated” with others who are not members of their households.

Fletcher said these community settings include a local restaurant, an office building, dinner parties, backyard barbecues, and unauthorized weddings.

Fletcher last month identified 13 “triggers” that could cause San Diego County to take industry-specific actions, pause reopening efforts, or even dial back reopening phases. The triggers are divided into three categories: epidemiology, health care, and public health. You can see the county's chart on triggers here.

County health officials said Friday all 13 triggers are “green" right now, meaning the county is in the clear, but that could change at any point. Fletcher warned that seven community outbreaks in a 7-day period would trigger a partial halting of San Diego County’s reopening.

This data is not a full representation of cases. Totals are based on patients' resident zip code, and are not a representation of where someone contracted COVID-19. Because not every single resident is tested regularly, officials with the County Health and Human Services Agency say the number of people infected with COVID-19 in the county is likely much higher than the reported total.

Under phase 2 of San Diego’s reopening plan, dining rooms at local restaurants were given the green light to reopen their doors on May 21. The reopening of restaurants came with new rules and restrictions, including the practices of social distancing and wearing of face masks by both employees and patrons.

Dr. Wilma Wooten said Friday that only one San Diego restaurant, so far, has been linked to a community outbreak, and that outbreak is still under investigation.

Citing privacy concerns, Wooten said the name of the restaurant would not be released, although Wooten said if the outbreak at the restaurant is large enough, health officials would issue a press release with further details on the public health impacts of that outbreak.

Wooten said as restaurants and bars continue to reopen, public health officials are asking those businesses to avoid having live music.

"The thing is, that if you play music, it encourages people to get up and start dancing and we want people not to do that."

NBC 7 asked Wooten about potential community outbreaks at local protests over the past couple of weeks, but she said health officials are not aware of any community outbreaks at demonstrations, thus far.

Wooten said health officials are not aware of any protestors contracting COVID-19 at local protests, but they are investigating the possibility of individuals who may have been COVID-19 positive when they attended a local demonstration.

San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox said the outbreaks are a stark reminder that the coronavirus pandemic persists.

“It doesn’t mean the crisis is over and we can relax,” Cox said. “Coronavirus is still out there in the community.”

Cox said San Diegans should still wear face masks, wash their hands and avoid touching their faces when out in the community. He said it’s important not to let San Diego County’s reopening lead to “a surge in cases.”

Wooten said San Diego County has seen 104 outbreaks of the coronavirus, 56 of which are still active. She said 20 outbreaks were linked to skilled nursing facilities, 23 to non-skilled, and 13 to community setting locations.

Wooten said as of Friday, there were a total of 9,130 COVID-19 cases in San Diego County and 313 deaths. Of those figures, 132 were newly-announced cases and 6 new deaths.

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