As the COVID-19 pandemic wore on, August 2021 brought a surge of cases among the unvaccinated in San Diego County, plus mask mandates, concerns over the Delta variant, and back-to-school season for students across the county. Here's a look back at how the month unfolded.
COVID-19 Patients in San Diego County
As of data gathered through Aug. 31, San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency officials have reported 335,302 positive COVID-19 cases and 3,908 deaths. These tallies are from the time the county began tracking COVID cases back in mid-February 2020.
Since California's full reopening on June 15, San Diego County public health officials have stopped holding weekly COVID-19 news briefings, but data is updated daily and weekly on the county's website here.
Helpful Data: Post-June 15 in San Diego County, County vaccination demographics; Map of case rates by city and ZIP; COVID-19 case totals by age and gender; Map of case totals by city of residence; Case totals by race/ethnicity; Tests reported by day; Statistics regarding hospitalized patients; Statistics regarding deceased patients.
Here is San Diego County's Public Health Order, as of June 15, 2021.
Coronavirus in San Diego County: August 2021
Cases & Deaths: On the final day of August 2021, county public health officials added 949 new COVID-19 cases to the region's tally, bringing it up to 335, 302. The county also reported 20 new COVID-related deaths, bringing that toll to 3,908 since the pandemic reached San Diego County in mid-February 2020.
Vaccination Progress: The latest round of weekly vaccination data was released by San Diego County on Sept. 1, and here's where those stats stood:
- 2,407,528 San Diego residents had received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine
- 2,112,936 San Diego residents were fully vaccinated, or 75.4% of the local population eligible for the coronavirus vaccine (age 12+).
Cases & Deaths: San Diego County reported 1,025 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the region's tally to 333,011. Five COVID-related deaths were reported; that toll now stood at 3,885 coronavirus-related deaths in San Diego County.
Testing: The county said an average of 19,101 coronavirus tests had been reported over the past seven days, for a 7.3% positivity rate.
San Diego Unified School District Returns to School: Students in the San Diego Unified School District had their first day of school on Aug. 30. For the largest school district in the county, back to school came with some COVID-19 safety policies, including that students and staff must wear face masks at all times on campuses -- even outdoors -- unless they're eating.
County Recommendations: Amid a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases due to the spread of the delta variant, the County of San Diego and Human Services Agency said it would now recommend all San Diegans wear masks in indoor and public settings -- even those who were fully vaccinated.
“Indoor masking, regardless of vaccination status, adds an additional layer of protection and reduces the risk of transmission of COVID-19,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, County public health officer. “If you are not fully vaccinated yet, I urge you to get your shot now, so we can slow the spread of this more contagious strain of COVID-19.”
Cases & Deaths: A total of 1,327 COVID-19 cases were reported to the County on Aug. 24, bringing the region's total to 327,166. San Diego County’s case rate per 100,000 residents was 35.2 overall, 9.3 for fully vaccinated people and 66.9 for not fully vaccinated San Diegans. Meanwhile, 25 new COVID-related deaths were reported since Aug. 18, bringing that toll to 3,859.
Back to School for SDSU and Local Colleges: San Diego State University welcomed students back to campus for in-person classes on Aug. 23. Many students told NBC 7 they were thrilled to be back at school, in person, after spending the prior school year in full distance learning mode.
San Diego County Community Colleges also returned to school on Aug. 23, with COVID-19 protocols in place.
Cases & Deaths: As the Delta variant continues to surge, San Diego County public health officials tallied 979 new cases of COVID-19 across the county as of Aug. 21. This brought the total number of COVID cases in San Diego County up to 323,591. There had been 3,848 coronavirus-related deaths in San Diego County since the pandemic took hold of the region in mid-February 2020.
California Event Guidance: On Aug. 18, the state's health department said people attending indoor events in California would now be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before entering a venue.
The updated COVID-19 safety guidance, which starts Sept. 20, requires proof of vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of an indoor event with more than 1,000 people in attendance. The health department’s guidance previously required people to “self-attest” to vaccination or negative test instead of showing proof.
Booster COVID-19 Shots: U.S. health officials announced plans to dispense COVID-19 booster shots to all Americans. The plan, as outlined by the chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other top health authorities, calls for an extra dose eight months after people get their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The doses could begin the week of Sept. 20.
San Diego County has begun working on vaccine plans to meet the guidance being drafted by the CDC for an expansion of additional doses in late September, but no details were released in August 2021.
Cases & Deaths: San Diego County public health officials reported 1,117 additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the region’s total to 318,152. Out of 16,329 tests reported on Aug. 17, the percentage of new positive cases was 6.8%. San Diego County’s case rate per 100,000 residents was 28.7 overall, 6.0 for fully vaccinated people, and 55.7 for not fully vaccinated San Diegans. Meanwhile, 16 new deaths were reported since Aug. 11; the region’s total now stood at 3,834.
Aug. 17 (California Updates)
California’s COVID Cases: According to the CDPH, here’s where the COVID-19 case count in California stood as of data released on Aug. 17, 2021:
- California has 4,043,407 confirmed cases of COVID-19, to date.
- There were 9,748 newly reported confirmed cases on Aug. 16, 2021.
- The state’s 7-day positivity rate is 5.8%.
- There have been 64,201 COVID-19 deaths in California since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.
Aug. 16 (California Updates)
Hospitalizations: The California Department of Public Health reported 7,166 COVID-related hospitalizations across the state on Aug. 16, 2021 – close to the highest number of hospitalizations – 7,200 – the state saw during the coronavirus case surge in the summer of 2020.
“We are continuing to see an increase in cases and hospitalizations due to the Delta variant of COVID-19 and are taking action to ensure the state’s health care delivery system is prepared and can respond should the situation worsen,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer.
Still, at this point in the month, the CDPH said the state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations were far below the peak of nearly 22,000 seen during the surge in January 2021.
State health officials said the increasing number of Californians contracting COVID-19 right now and being admitted to hospitals are overwhelmingly unvaccinated.
Statewide Vaccines: The CDPH said California had administered more vaccines than any other state with more than 45 million doses administered. Over 78% of those who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in California had gotten at least one dose.
Coronavirus in California: Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a vaccine mandate for teachers and staff at all California public schools as COVID-19 cases continued to spike across the state and nation.
The governor ordered that all California public school employees either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to a regular test proving they are not infected with the coronavirus, making California the first in the country to implement such a measure.
New Testing Sites: Due to increased demands, San Diego County opened more testing sites:
- Lemon Grove Senior Center – Now Open. 8235 Mount Vernon St., Lemon Grove
Tue. – Sat. 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
- Northgate Market San Diego – Now Open. 5403 University Ave., San Diego
Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
- North County Lifeline – Opens Aug. 12. 200 Michigan Ave., Vista CA
Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
- Border View YMCA –Opens Aug. 15 3601 Arey Dr., San Diego
Sun. – Thur. from 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Cases & Deaths: County health officials reported 1,134 COVID-19 cases on Aug. 10, bringing the region’s total to 309, 406. Fourteen new COVID-related deaths were reported, bringing the region’s total to 3,818.
Aug. 9 (California Updates)
COVID-19 Cases in California: The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released its weekly COVID-19 stats on Aug. 9, saying California had 3,950,172 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date.
More case rate updates from the CDPH:
- 10,425 newly reported cases across the state were reported as of Aug. 8
- The CDPH said COVID-19 cases continue to increase statewide, “largely among unvaccinated populations.”
- For the week of July 31: the average case rate among unvaccinated Californians is 33 per 100,000 per day; the average case rate among vaccinated Californians is 7 per 100,000 per day.
- There have been 64,318 COVID-related deaths in California since the start of the pandemic.
Statewide COVID-19 Testing: The CDPH said that as of Aug. 9, there had been 75,662,474 coronavirus tests conducted in California.
“This represents an increase of 257,510 during the prior 24-hour reporting period,” the CDPH added.
Vaccination Progress: Data from the top of the month showed a total of 2,015,700, or 71.9%, of San Diego residents 12 and older had received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot.
The County had set a goal of vaccinating 75% of the 2.8 million residents who are eligible to get the vaccine, which comes out to 2,101,936 people. At this point, about 86,000 more San Diegans were needed to reach that target, which is five percentage points higher than the state and national goal.
COVID-19 Testing Sites: The county opened six additional sites throughout the region to meet an increase in local demand for COVID-19 testing.
The new sites included one at Cal State San Marcos and one at San Diego State University, plus four at county-run clinics.
Cases & Deaths: San Diego County public health officials reported 908 new COVID-19 cases and seven new COVID-related deaths.
Coronavirus in San Diego County: July 2021 Updates
In July 2021, county public health officials continued to release data daily and weekly. Here's a weekly glimpse of what happened in San Diego County during the coronavirus pandemic in July 2021.
COVID-19 Continues to Spread: The county reported that in the last 30 days – June 28 to July 27, 2021 – a total of 11,391 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in San Diego County. Of those, close to 90%, or 10,234, were not vaccinated and 10%, or 1,157 people, were vaccinated.
Vaccine Progress: Over 2.27 million or 81.1% of San Diegans 12 and older were partially vaccinated as of this point in July, while over 1.96 million or 70% had been fully vaccinated.
Cases & Deaths: A total of 765 COVID-19 cases were reported on July 27, bringing the region's tally to 294,176. San Diego County’s case rate was 13.4 cases per 100,000 residents as of July 27. Meanwhile, 11 new COVID-related deaths were reported (the last report from the county before this had been on July 21), bringing that toll to 3,798. Two women and nine men died between December 24, 2020, and July 22, 2021.
COVID-19 Spike: A wave of new cases had pushed the county's case rate to 7.6. That metric used to largely determine a county’s standing in the state’s tiered reopening system which retired on June 15. If the tiered system were still in use, San Diego County would, at this point, have been sitting back in the red tier, the second-most restrictive tier.
Cases & Deaths: A total of 521 COVID-19 cases were reported to the county, plus one new COVID-related death.
Rising COVID-19 Cases: As COVID-19 cases slowly increased in San Diego County – including an increase in Delta variant cases – new research looked into why some San Diegans were still not getting vaccinated.
Cases & Deaths: A total of 275 COVID-19 cases were reported to the county on July 13, bringing the tally to 285,268. Four new coronavirus-related deaths were reported between July 7 and July 13, so that toll ticked up to 3,786.
Cases Among the Unvaccinated in San Diego County: On July 7, county public health officials said that almost all COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths reported in San Diego County in 2021 occurred among residents who were not fully vaccinated.
Data released from the County Health and Human Services Agency showed that since Jan. 1, COVID-19 had nearly exclusively occurred among San Diego residents who were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. They represented 99.8% of deaths, 99.88% of hospitalizations and 99.1% of cases, public health officials said.
Cases & Deaths: County health officials reported 102 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the region's total to 283,376. Two new coronavirus-related deaths were reported between June 30 and July 6, so that toll ticked up to 3,782.
The Coronavirus Pandemic in San Diego County, Month by Month
For a look back at what happened day by day in June 2021 in San Diego County during the coronavirus pandemic, click here.
For a look back at what happened day by day in May 2021 in San Diego County during the coronavirus pandemic, click here.
For a look back at what happened day by day in April 2021 in San Diego County during the coronavirus pandemic, click here.
For a look back at what happened day by day in March 2021 in San Diego County during the coronavirus pandemic, click here.
For a look back at what happened day by day in February 2021 in San Diego County during the coronavirus pandemic, click here.
For a full look back at what happened day by day in January 2021 in San Diego County during the coronavirus pandemic, click here.
For a look back at what happened in San Diego County in December 2020, click here.
For a look back at what happened in San Diego County in November 2020, click here.
For a look back at what happened in San Diego County in October 2020, click here.
For a look back at what happened in San Diego County in September 2020, click here.
To read what happened in April 2020, a month that county leaders called "critical" for flattening the curve, click here.
Mid-March 2020: A Look Back at the Time When the Coronavirus Pandemic Reached San Diego County
A lot happened in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic reached San Diego County and COVID-19 cases surged.
This included quarantine operations at a 151-room Ramada hotel in Kearny Mesa that was chosen to house quarantined patients held at MCAS Miramar (March 18).
More than 480 passengers from a coronavirus-ridden cruise ship that docked at the Port of Oakland were flown to MCAS Miramar March 10 to March 12 to complete a mandatory 14-day federal quarantine. On March 27, Dr. Eric McDonald, Medical Director with the County Epidemiology Immunization Branch said all but three of the passengers had returned home after 14-days of quarantine, including those who had been at the Ramada Hotel.
Training Support Command at Naval Base San Diego was temporarily closed on March 14 due to three Sailors testing positive for COVID-19.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the stay-at-home order and, soon, the springtime shutdown across San Diego County began.
Schools Shut Down
On March 13, San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten shut down the second-largest school district in California. All other school districts in San Diego County followed suit. San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy closed all schools within the San Diego Catholic Diocese, too.
We later learned schools across the state would be closed for the remainder of the academic year.
Local colleges and universities also canceled classes and events and moved their operations online. This included: UC San Diego; San Diego State University; California State University San Marcos; Point Loma Nazarene University; University of San Diego; San Diego Community College District; Southwestern College; Palomar College; Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.
Church Services Canceled
As gatherings were banned, all daily and Sunday masses in the San Diego Catholic Diocese were canceled. Rock Church San Diego services were also canceled and moved to streaming online.
Beaches & Parks Closed
On March 23, San Diego’s beaches, parks, boardwalks, and other open spaces across the county were ordered to close to restrict gatherings over 10 people prohibited by state and local laws.
Restaurant Dinings Rooms & Bars Close
Bars and restaurant dining rooms were ordered to close in March, too. Shopping malls closed. Some retailers – like clothing stores Urban Outfitters and Brandy Melville USA – temporarily closed their stores, and more would follow.
Sports, On Hold
Sports agencies – both college-level and professional – suspended their games and seasons. MLB’s Opening Day – including the San Diego Padres big Home Opener at Petco Park – were scrapped, but in June, the MLB made plans to return to the field, without fans. The 2020 MLB season will return in late July.