If June was a month of reopenings (albeit, some setbacks) in San Diego County amid the coronavirus pandemic, then July was a month of the return of restrictions for many businesses as COVID-19 cases surged across California.
After hitting some COVID-19 public health triggers towards the end of June, the month of July 2020 began with San Diego County landing on California's coronavirus "watch list," which spurred reopening rollbacks across a variety of indoor sectors like restaurants, gyms, and houses of worship.
County leaders said community outbreaks continued to add to San Diego's COVID case count. As testing increased, so did the case numbers. San Diego County wasn't alone, as county after county in California battled its own COVID challenges.
Due to the surge, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced schools across the state would be unlikely to return to in-person instruction in the fall and local districts began coming up with plans for the 2020-2021 school year. Those plans are still being worked out as things continue to rapidly change during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, some businesses chose to defy the local public health order. County health officials were pressed on how they were managing to enforce the public health order. And that part is ongoing.
Here's a closer look, day by day, at what happened in July 2020 in San Diego County during the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 Patients in San Diego County
As of July 30, 2020, San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) officials confirmed there had been 28,668 total positive COVID-19 cases and 558 COVID-related deaths since Feb. 14, 2020, in our region. We follow the county's daily update here; you can count on us to keep you informed.
As testing capacity increases in San Diego County, the ratio of positive cases to the total amount of people being tested will change but any increase in the number of positive cases as a percentage of total tests would indicate an increase in spread. Before mid-June, the county had a 14-day rolling average between 2 to 3% of positive cases, according to the county.
The county continues to move toward its goal of increased daily testing to any resident who wants a test. This allows health officials to better track the disease, particularly among residents who may not show symptoms of COVID-19 but can just as easily spread the disease.
Other Data: Is San Diego County "flattening the curve?"; 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.
June was a month of both reopenings and setbacks for San Diego County as community outbreaks triggered health officials to re-evaluate the city's public health order. To catch up on what happened in June in San Diego County during the coronavirus pandemic, read this.
Second Half of July
County health officials reported 380 new COVID-19 cases out of 9.066 tests, for a 4% positive rate. The total number of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 29,048. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 5.4%; the target set by the state is less than 8%.
Out of the total number of COVID-19 cases, 2,521 or 8.7% have required hospitalization; 25.5% of hospitalized cases had to be admitted to the ICU.
Three new COVID-19 deaths were reported, bringing the county's total to 561. Two men and one woman men died; their ages ranged from 69 to 79 years old. All had underlying medical conditions.
Thirteen new outbreaks were identified on July 30, three in business settings, three in restaurant settings, two in a restaurant/bar setting, two in a hotel/resort/spa setting, one in a healthcare setting, one in a faith-based setting, and one in a grocery setting. In the past seven days, 38 community outbreaks have been identified. The number of community outbreaks continues to be above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.
County health officials reported 381 new COVID-19 cases out of 8,238 tests, for a 5% positive rate. The total number of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 28,668. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 5.6%, the target set by the state is less than 8%.
Out of the total number of COVID-19 cases, 2,486 or 8.7% have required hospitalization; 25.7% of hospitalized cases had to be admitted to the ICU.
Six new COVID-19 deaths were reported on July 30, bringing the county's total to 558. Two women and four men died, ranging in age from 48 to 86 years old. All had underlying medical conditions.
Five new outbreaks were identified on July 29 in a restaurant/bar setting. In the past seven days, 28 community outbreaks have been identified. The number of community outbreaks continues to be above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.
By the way, below is the San Diego County Public Health Order, which was last amended on July 30, 2020.
San Diego Unified School District shared its plans for online/distance learning for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. You can read all about that here.
County health officials reported 282 new COVID-19 cases reported out of 6,899 tests, for a 4% positive rate. Five new deaths were also reported, bringing the region's total to 552 deaths.
Also reported on July 29: Six new community outbreaks. One was at a health care setting, three in a restaurant/bar, and two in businesses. The county was tracking 24 outbreaks in the past seven days at this point -- one of the highest counts reported by the county since tracking of community outbreaks began, and well over the threshold that activates the county's outbreak "trigger."
A San Diego County official confirmed there was an outbreak of COVID-19 tied to a popular San Diego gym that was operating in violation of the county's public health order last week.
At least three people affiliated with The Gym in Pacific Beach have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, a San Diego County spokesperson said.
San Diego County public health officials reported 14 new deaths related to the novel coronavirus for a total of 547 since tracking began. The deaths included six women and eight men, all with underlying medical conditions, ranging in age from early-60s to late-90s. All died between July 17 and July 26.
San Diego County public health officials continued to identify outbreaks in community settings, reporting that there were eight new outbreaks identified on July 28: Five at restaurants/bars, one in a gym, one in a nail salon, and one at a residence.
That brought the seven-day total of community outbreaks to 20, one of the highest counts reported by the county since tracking of community outbreaks began.
For the second day in a row, the county had an 8% positive case rate among total tests reported. There were 6,623 tests reported on July 28, with 498 new cases of COVID-19. The 14-day rolling average was 5.7%, below the 8% target set by the state.
There had been 28,005 cases of the novel coronavirus in San Diego County since tracking began.
July 27 marked three weeks since San Diego County was placed on California's "watch list." This was the earliest possible date that the county could've been removed from the list, but it was not.
San Diego County remained on the state of California's monitoring list due to a case rate that remained higher than what was necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19, County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said.
The case rate on July 27 was 144 for every 100,000 San Diegans over a 14-day period. In order for the county to get off the state's watch list -- and move ahead with some reopenings, like schools -- that number needs to drop to 100 for every 100,000 people.
Health officials said San Diego's chances of doing that anytime soon remained slim. To do so, San Diego County would have to have no more than 234 new cases a day for 14 days.
On July 27 public health officials reported 523 new cases, for a total of 27,507 since the pandemic reached San Diego County and a positive rate of 5% over the last seven days.
The county also reported two new community outbreaks -- at a restaurant/bar and at a retail store -- for a total of 59 active outbreaks accounting for 981 of the county's total cases and 9 of the county's 533 deaths. No new deaths were reported on July 27.
Community outbreaks and the county's case rate were two metrics that remained "triggered" on the county's list of metrics that determine whether or not the county has a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. The third trigger that was activated was case investigations.
Wooten said that despite adding more than 90 new investigators in the week prior, the county was only able to make contact with about 10% of new cases within 24 hours. The goal is to contact 70% of new cases in order to determine who they've been in contact with and stop the spread. An additional 90 contact tracers would be hired by the end of this week, health officials said.
Wooten also reacted to a church that held an impromptu service on Cardiff State Beach without social distancing and many without face coverings in clear violation of the public health order.
"As in the photos that I saw, it really was a massive group of people gathering together without social distancing and without wearing facial coverings, so we will continue to address this egregious violation as we will others that have been brought to our attention," Wooten said.
Churches are allowed to operate outdoors while maintaining social distancing and utilizing face coverings. See her full reaction below:
Public health officials reported 283 new COVID-19 cases out of 7,505 tests, for a 4% positive rate. The county currently had confirmed, at this point, 26,984 positive cases of COVID-19. The 14-day average percentage of positive cases was 5.6%.
No additional deaths were reported in connection to the virus. However, three new outbreaks were reported at a restaurant/bar, a business, and a food processing facility.
San Diego County reported 603 new positive COVID-19 cases out of a record 16,429 tests, making for a 4% positive rate. The county had a total of 26,701 cases of the novel coronavirus. The county's 14-day rolling average percentage of positive COVID-19 cases was 5.8%.
Nine additional deaths were reported, making the death toll in the county 533. The dead were identified as four women and five men between the ages of 60 and 93. All but one had underlying medical conditions, health officials said.
A single additional community outbreak was reported at a business.
Public health officials reported 490 new COVID-19 cases out of 6,974 tests, for a 7% positive rate. The county's total was 26,098 cases. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases was 6.1%, less than the 8% target set by the state.
Twelve deaths were reported bringing the region's total to 524. Four women and eight men ages 44 to 88 died. All had underlying medical conditions.
Three new community setting outbreaks were reported on July 23, one each at a restaurant/bar, a gym, and a church. In this seven-day stretch, 13 community outbreaks were confirmed.
Meanwhile, after months without baseball (and sports, for that matter), the San Diego Padres returned to the field for this year's abbreviated, pandemic-modified MLB season. Our On Friar podcast was happy to welcome Opening Day. Fans weren't allowed in the stands, so in these pandemic times, this was the next best thing.
San Diego County reported 501 new COVID-19 cases out of 8,304 reported tests, a 6% positive rate. The county now had a total of 25,608 cases.
Seven deaths were reported bringing the region's total to 512. Four women and three men died. Their ages ranged from 44 to 95, and all had underlying medical conditions.
One new community setting outbreak was reported at a restaurant/bar. In the past seven days, 12 community outbreaks were confirmed. The number of community outbreaks continued to be above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.
Public health officials reported 587 new COVID-19 cases among 8,280 tests, a 7.1% positive rate. The county's 14-day rolling positivity rate average was at 6%. The county's case total broke the 25,000 mark on the same day California overtook New York for the state with the most cases.
A record 18 new COVID-19 deaths were reported pushing the county's total to 505. The deaths represented 2% of the county's case total (25,107).
Three triggers that landed San Diego County on the state's watch list -- case rate, community outbreaks, and contact investigations -- were still active and had been active for more than 14 consecutive days. For case rate to be considered normal, the county needed to be reporting 234 new COVID-19 cases or less per day over a two-week span.
Twelve community outbreaks were identified as the county reported its numbers on July 22. The two newest outbreaks were confirmed at a business and at a health care facility.
Following a push to onboard more contact tracing investigators, the county announced it had hired 97 new investigators and was in the process of hiring more than 200 more.
The county's tracing goal was a seven-day average above 90% of close contacts traced within 24 hours. As of July 22, the county's percentage stood at 90%.
The county announced it was bumping up its testing goal from 1.5 tests per 1,000 residents to 2 tests per 1,000 residents. The new goal is to maintain a seven-day average of 6,600 tests per day. On Wednesday, the county's seven-day testing average was above 9,000.
County Supervisor Greg Cox said a Safe Reopening Compliance Team was being put together to help enforce the San Diego County Public Health Order among businesses, establishments and the public. The compliance team will educate in regards to the changing nature of the order, but will also respond to public complaints at specific places. Details of the teams were still being discussed and the county was seeking input from city leaders.
The county reported 385 new COVID-19 cases among a batch of 9,030 tests Tuesday (4.3% positive rate). The test load was one of the largest single-day totals reported since the pandemic began. The county's 14-day rolling positivity rate average fell to 5.8%, below its 8% target.
As of July 21, the county said 2,237, or 9.1% of cases, had required hospitalization. Meanwhile, 578, or 2.4% of all cases, and 25.8% of hospitalized cases had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.
One new community outbreak was reported, bringing the number of outbreaks in the last seven days to 14.
Health officials reported nine new deaths bringing the total to 487. This included five men and four women, ages 66 to 97, who died between July 10 and July 19. Eight of them had underlying conditions.
County health officials reported 453 new COVID-19 cases out of 7,884 tests for a 5.7% positivity rate. The county had a total of 24,135 COVID-19 cases. No new deaths were reported, keeping San Diego's death toll at 478.
Fletcher said the county remained on the state's watch list because it continued to have more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents for more than three days -- a benchmark outlined by the state. The July 20 number was 145 cases per 100,000 residents.
San Diego County reported 568 new COVID-19 cases out of 8,943 tests for a 6.4% positivity rate. The county's case total was 23,682. No additional deaths were reported.
The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive tests was 6%, the target was less than 8% trigger. The seven-day daily average of tests was 8,731.
Three new outbreaks were identified: One in a restaurant/bar, one in a manufacturing facility, and one in a preschool. In this seven-day period, 16 community outbreaks were identified.
County health officials reported 625 new COVID-19 cases out of 10,290 tests, for a 6% positive rate. The county's case total was now at 23,114. Six additional deaths were reported, bringing the county's total to 478. Four women and two men died, their ages ranged between 60 to mid-80s. All had existing chronic conditions.
Three new outbreaks were identified: One in a restaurant/bar, one in a gym, and one in a government setting.
San Diego County reported a record 634 new COVID-19 cases out of 9,224 tests, for a 7% positive rate. The county had a total of 22,489 COVID-19 cases. Seven more deaths were also reported bringing that total to 472.
Two new outbreaks were identified on July 16, both were in restaurants. In the past seven days, 13 community outbreaks were identified. The number of community outbreaks continues to be more than the trigger of seven in seven days.
Governor Newsom announced strict criteria for school reopenings that make it unlikely the vast majority of districts will have classroom instruction in the fall as the coronavirus pandemic surges.
The rules include a mandate that students above 2nd grade and all staff wear masks in school. Also, schools in counties on the state's watch monitoring list cannot reopen in-person learning.
San Diego County public health officials reported a record 17 new deaths on July 16, bringing the county's total COVID-19-related deaths to 465. Of those 17 people, 11 were men and six were women, ranging in age from 51 to 90. All but one had an underlying medical condition. San Diego County reported 409 new COVID-19 cases out of 10,434 tests, for a 4% positive rate.
One new community outbreak was reported on July 15 in a gym. Again the community outbreaks trigger was high: 14 outbreaks in seven days.
The county opened a new COVID-19 testing site in Imperial Beach on July 16, located at the parking lot of Mar Vista High School.
First Half of July
San Diego County reported 559 new COVID-19 cases and 12 more COVID-related deaths bringing the respective totals to 21,446 and 448. According to the county 12,474, or 58% of the cases, were in the 20 to 49 age range.
Three state triggers -- case rate, community outbreaks, and case investigations -- were activated on July 15, as they had been for the prior 7 to 10 days. A 7% positive rate on July 15 bumped the county's 14-day rolling average up to 6.3%.
Fourteen community outbreaks were been identified in seven days; four of the new ones involved a laboratory, hair salon, barbershop, and a restaurant/bar.
Wooten said the county was working to hire more contact tracers/COVID case investigators. The job was posted and Wooten said, within an hour, hundreds of people had applied.
Over in Del Mar, weekend racing at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club was postponed after 15 jockeys tested positive for COVID-19. The race track planned to resume the season the following weekend.
San Diego County reported 539 new coronavirus cases out of 7,246 tests on July 14, a 7.4% positive rate. The 14-day rolling positivity rate (6.2%) was below the county's trigger threshold of 8%, but the 14-day rate was still trending upward. At this time, there were 15 community outbreaks over seven days.
Fourteen more deaths were reported, bringing the total to 436. The latest deaths included six women and eight men from their mid-40s to late-80s, and all but one had underlying health conditions.
Newsom ordered all 30 counties -- including San Diego County -- on the state's monitoring list to shut down the following additional indoor operations: fitness centers; places of worship; malls; hair salons and barbershops; personal care services; and offices for non-critical sectors.
San Diego Unified School District also announced online learning would continue in the fall and students would NOT return, in person, to school campuses for the upcoming year. The first day of school would still be Aug. 31.
County health officials reported 419 new COVID-19 cases across San Diego, bringing the total to 20,348. No new deaths were reported.
County health officials reported 558 new COVID-19 cases on July 12, bringing the region's total to 19,929. The county reported 8,505 tests for a 7% positive rate. No new deaths were reported, the county's total remained at 422. Two new outbreaks were identified, one in a healthcare setting and the other in a restaurant/bar. In this seven-day period, 18 community outbreaks were identified.
County health officials reported 508 new COVID-19 cases out of 8,292 tests reported, a 6% positive rate. The county had a total of 19,371 COVID-19 cases; 2,025, or 10.5% of those cases, had required hospitalization.
Two more deaths -- both women, in their early-70s to mid-80s, both with existing chronic conditions -- were reported, bringing the total to 422.
One new outbreak was identified in a healthcare setting on July 10. In this seven-day period, 17 community outbreaks were identified.
County health officials reported 461 new cases out of 8,423 tests conducted for a 5% positive rate. The county said the total was 18,863 new cases. Out of the total cases, 2,002 or 10.6% of cases had required hospitalizations.
Five more deaths were reported: Four men and one woman, ranging in age from the late 60s to 100. All had underlying health conditions. Now, the death count was at 420.
Three new community outbreaks were identified: at a business, at a restaurant, and in a health care setting. This meant there had been 18 community outbreaks in seven days.
County health officials reported 560 new COVID-19 cases out of 8,950 total tests, bringing the number of positive cases to 18,402. Nine more deaths were reported. Five women and four men died, their ages ranged between 50 to 89 years. All but one had an existing medical condition. In all, at this point, San Diego had reported 415 COVID-related deaths. A new outbreak was reported at a restaurant/bar. In this seven-day stretch, 15 community outbreaks were identified.
Health officials reported 264 new cases of the novel coronavirus in San Diego out of 7,607 total tests, bringing the number of positive cases to 17,842. Wooten confirmed seven more people had died from complications of COVID-19, bringing the total loss of life to 406 in the region since the outbreak began. Officials also confirmed hospitalizations and ICU admissions were increasing in San Diego.
The county added that the total number of community outbreaks in the past week rose to 24 -- the highest since the county began monitoring "triggers" that force health officials to re-evaluate the public health order.
Fifteen of the 24 community outbreaks were reported at restaurants/bars. One was at a gym, one was at a daycare and another was at a resort/spa.
San Diego County's daily positive rate of COVID-19 cases out of total tests reached double digits for the first time in months on July 7.
There were 578 new cases reported out of 5,530 tests for a 10% positive rate. The positive rate's 14-day rolling average was also steadily increasing. There were also 12 additional COVID-related deaths for a total of 399 since the outbreak began in San Diego County.
Nearly 11% of the 17,578 cases reported in San Diego County since the start of the outbreak had required hospitalization. Nearly 3% of all cases had been admitted to the ICU.
The county also reported five new community outbreaks for a total of 22 in the last seven days. The most recent outbreaks were in a restaurant, bars, a grocery store and a business.
July 7 was also the first day some indoor activities in San Diego County were ordered to close again. In order to allow for businesses to continue operations, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer signed an executive order that waived permit applications for outdoor dining, allowing restaurants to move dining onto sidewalks and streets. Read more here.
County officials ordered the closure of all indoor activities in San Diego at restaurants, bars, card rooms, wineries, tasting rooms, theaters, zoos, museums, and family entertainment centers. The guidance came after San Diego County remained on the state's watch list for more than three days.
Dine-in sections of restaurants, bars, and breweries that serve food were told to close, although, outdoor dining, pickup, and delivery were still allowed. Restaurants were told to "cease on-site food consumption by 10 p.m., with all customers out by 11 p.m.," per Fletcher.
However, bars and breweries were told, at this point, to close all operations, even if those operations were outdoors, Fletcher added. Curbside pickup for brewery products may still occur for breweries that do not serve food.
Wooten confirmed 274 new COVID-19 cases in San Diego, bringing the total to 17,000. No new deaths were reported over the holiday weekend.
As expected, San Diego County was placed on the state's monitoring list. The county said businesses would need to prepare to close or modify operations effective July 7. Those restrictions would last until at least July 27.
Due to the July 4 holiday, the July 5 numbers released by the county combined two days-worth of stats.
County health officials reported a total of 1,030 new COVID-19 cases, for a total of 16,726 in San Diego County since Feb. 14, 2020. The county said 468 new cases were reported on July 3, among 7,321 tests, making for a 6% positive rate. On July 4, a total of 562 cases were reported among 8,095 tests, making for a 7% positive rate. No new deaths were reported keeping the county's total at 387.
Two new outbreaks were reported on July 3, one was reported on July 4. All three outbreaks were in restaurants. In this seven-day period, 22 community setting outbreaks were identified.
Due to the holiday, the county did not release the latest COVID-19 numbers on the Fourth of July. With beaches closed in neighboring Southern California cities, many flocked to San Diego's open shorelines for the holiday weekend.
A total of 489 new COVID-19 cases were reported in San Diego County out of 7,307 tests with a 7% positive rate on July 3.
Out of the 15,696 positive COVID-19 cases, 1,849 or 11.8% had required hospitalization, according to public health officials. No new outbreaks were reported. In this seven-day stretch, 21 community setting outbreaks were identified.
The county on July 3 reported 10 new COVID-related deaths, bringing the region's total to 387 since the pandemic reached San Diego County more than four months prior. Six women and four men died, their ages were in the mid-50s and late 90s. All had underlying health conditions.
San Diego County was told it would be placed on the state's watch list within days, meaning the reopening rollbacks were coming.
"Businesses on the state’s list should prepare to close or modify their operations since new restrictions could be effective as early as July 7 and would last for three weeks," the county said.
Indoor activity restrictions could be placed on businesses including dine-in restaurants (with service limited to outdoor, pick up or drive-thru), wineries and tasting rooms (can operate outside), movie theaters, family entertainment centers and cardrooms, museums, and zoos.
Ten new outbreaks were reported on July 2, including eight in restaurants/bars, one in a grocery store, and one in a business. The county said 22 community outbreaks had been reported in seven days, far exceed the trigger.
The 22 outbreaks represented 100 laboratory-confirmed cases, according to the county.
The County also reached its Case Investigation trigger because only 67% of investigations were initiated within 24 hours of notification over a seven-day period. The trigger is activated when the rate falls below 71%.
Yet another single-day positive COVID-19 case record was set on July 2 as the county reported 584 new cases. The new cases made up 6.8% of the 8,510 reported tests.
The county's positive rate per 100,000 residents rose to 112.8; that trigger calls for no more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents.
The county's case total since the pandemic began was at 15,207 positive COVID-19 cases as of July 2, and 377 deaths (with five new deaths reported on this day).
San Diego County saw another record-setting day on July 1 with 474 new COVID-19 positive cases out of 7,825 tests reported, a 6% positive rate. Seven new deaths were also reported bringing the total to 372.
Thirteen outbreaks were reported in a seven day period. The county's trigger is reached when there are seven outbreaks in seven days. The outbreaks reported on July 1 included community settings like businesses/bars, restaurants, a healthcare facility, a grocery store, a private residence, and a business that prepares/handles food.
Dr. Francesca Torriani, Infectious Disease Specialist at UC San Diego Health said she is seeing a higher number of admission in acute healthcare, seeing a higher number of people coming in to get diagnosed and not needing a higher level of care, and is seeing an increase in the number of health care workers becoming symptomatic.
“We’re very, very concerned about the trajectory of this pandemic,” said Patty Maysent, Chief Executive Officer at UC San Diego Health.
Meanwhile, as COVID-19 cases surged across California, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered bars and indoor dining at restaurants to close in 19 counties. At this point, though, San Diego County was the ONLY Southern California county not on the state's monitoring list. That placement was looming. County public health officials said if San Diego County continued to hit the state's COVID-19 triggers, we would join that monitoring list and would need to impose restrictions again.
Wooten said she expected San Diego County to be on the state's monitoring list by July 3, and by July 6, she expected San Diego County businesses like restaurants and bars would be ordered to shut down indoor settings.
Ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, San Diego County was ordered to close all parking lots at state beaches.
To read about what happened in June 2020, a month of reopenings, triggers and setbacks in San Diego County, click here.
To read what happened in May 2020, a month that county leaders called a month of "adaptation" for San Diego County in the fight against the novel coronavirus, click here.
To read what happened in April 2020, a month that county leaders called "critical" for flattening the curve, click here.
Text "COSD COVID19" to 468311 to receive updates and alerts from the county. Click here to find different ways to help your community during the pandemic.
San Diego County would like to remind everyone if you or someone you care about is experiencing a suicidal or mental health crisis, please call the Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240.
Pitching in During the Pandemic: Stories of San Diegans Doing Good: Read more stories about San Diegans finding creative ways to lend support. Have you heard about a story we should share? Let us know