San Diego County entering the CDC's "high" COVID-19 community level means masks will be required in most indoor settings at military installations in our region, according to the Department of Defenses.
"When the CDC COVID-19 Community Level is high in the county or equivalent jurisdiction ... indoor mask-wearing is required for all individuals, including Service members, DoD civilian employees, onsite DoD contractor personnel (collectively, “DoD personnel”), and visitors, regardless of vaccination status," the DoD's masking guidance reads (See full mask guidance on page 36).
The county was placed in the CDC's highest community level on Thursday. Community levels are used as a measurement of COVID-19's impact on local hospital systems, according to the CDC.
For now, San Diego County is only recommending masks indoors in civilian settings.
The highly infectious BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are driving up the county's case and hospitalization numbers, moving San Diego County into the "high" COVID-19 activity level.
The number of people hospitalized with a coronavirus infection in the county increased by five to 422, according to the latest state data out Saturday. ICU patients with COVID were up two from the previous day's total to 47. There were three more hospital beds available, totaling 253.
As of Thursday, the average daily rate of COVID-19-positive patients being hospitalized in the county rose to 11.5 per 100,000 residents. That topped the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's threshold for "high" virus activity.
San Diego had been in the medium-risk category since the end of May, but recent spikes in hospitalizations and new cases have led the CDC to increase the risk level for the region.
The county continues to follow the California Department of Public Health's SMARTER plan, which recommends vaccination, use of masks, testing and treatment among other things.
"San Diegans should take every precaution necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19," said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, county deputy public health officer. "Most San Diegans have been vaccinated, but with this virus, and with the prevalence and infectivity of the new variants, a booster is highly recommended, especially for people who are immunocompromised or have other comorbidities."
The coronavirus case rate for San Diego County is 383.01 per 100,000 residents.
According to the county's Health and Human Services Agency, lab- confirmed coronavirus cases remain near 10,000 per week, a number that does not include at-home tests. The HHSA also reported it has also seen an increase in re-infections -- San Diegans who have tested positive for COVID-19 several times throughout the pandemic. Prior infection does not necessarily prevent re- infection with some of the newer virus variants, according to national data.
Additionally, hospitalizations for COVID-related illness are also on the rise, up 66% in the past 30 days, the HHSA said past week. New ICU admissions rose 68% during that same time frame.
The county reported 2,191 new infections and seven deaths related to the virus on Thursday, increasing the cumulative totals to 857,182 cases and 5,370 deaths.
Health officials have said that a majority of the deaths occurred in people with at least one underlying health condition, mainly hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.
More than 3 million or 89.7% of San Diegans age six months and older are at least partially vaccinated. Nearly 2.65 million or 79.2% are fully vaccinated. A total of 1,396,563 or 57.8% of 2,418,004 eligible San Diegans have received a booster.
The county only reports COVID data on Mondays and Thursdays.