coronavirus

San Diego County Almost Falls Into Purple Tier: What Happened in October 2020

Here's a look back at what happened in San Diego County in October 2020 as we tackled another month of the coronavirus pandemic

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As we dove deeper into the fall season, the coronavirus pandemic continued in San Diego County. Locals had yet another scare of shifting to the restrictive "Purple Tier" but ultimately, the region remained in the "Red Tier."

Here's a recap of what happened in San Diego during the pandemic in October 2020.


COVID-19 Patients in San Diego County

As of Oct. 31, San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) officials confirmed there have been 56,750 total positive COVID-19 cases and 891 deaths since Feb. 14, 2020.


The coronavirus pandemic reached San Diego County in mid-March 2020. Each day, local health officials gave us updates on the spread of the novel coronavirus in our region.

Here's what they said about October:

Second Half of October 2020

Oct. 31
Cases, Deaths: County health officials reported 381 COVID-19 cases out of a batch of 12,879 tests for a 3% positive rate. Three new deaths were reported. The region’s total is now 891.

Community Outbreaks: No new community outbreaks were confirmed on Oct. 30. In the past seven days (Oct. 24 through Oct. 30), 27 community outbreaks were confirmed.

Oct. 30
Cases, Deaths: County health officials reported 471 COVID-19 cases out of a batch of 15,013 tests for a 3% positive rate. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 2.7%. Target is less than 8.0%. Three new deaths were reported. The region’s total is now 888. One woman and two men died. Their ages ranged from mid-30s to mid-80s. All had underlying medical conditions.

Community Outbreaks: One new community outbreak was confirmed on Oct. 29 in a restaurant setting. In the past seven days (Oct. 23 through Oct. 29), 33 community outbreaks were confirmed. The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.

Oct. 29
Cases, Deaths: The region reported 358 new positive COVID-19 cases out of 13,338 tests, a 3% positive rate. The new figure brought our total to 55,898.

Sadly, four additional deaths were reported bringing the total to 885.

Community Outbreaks: Eight additional outbreaks have been reported.

As Halloween crept closer, County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten issued a reminder to San Diegans to stay safe and make smart choices this spooky season. She also made some recommendations on how to celebrate while staying safe.

“Please be safe and stay healthy this Halloween weekend,” Wooten said. “A boo and a cackle can be great fun, but COVID is definitely not.”

Oct. 28
Cases, Deaths: County officials reported 330 new positive COVID-19 cases out of 11,116 tests, making for a 3% positive rate. This brings the total to 55,540.

The region's death toll increased to 881 after four additional deaths were reported.

Community Outbreaks: Thirteen additional outbreaks have been reported: Four in a grocery setting, two in a business setting, one in a government setting, three in a restaurant setting, two in a healthcare setting, and one in a daycare setting. In the past seven days, 31 community outbreaks have been reported.

Local families who have dealt with COVID-19 firsthand are sharing how the journey hasn't been easy in the wake of Pres. Donald Trump tweeting how people should not be afraid of the virus, reports NBC 7's Melissa Adan.

Oct. 27
Cases, Deaths: County officials reported 269 new positive COVID-19 cases out of 10,456 tests, a 3% positive rate. The region’s total is now 55,210. Seven new deaths were reported, for a total of 877. Five men and two women died between Oct. 22 and Oct. 25, with one death occurring July 19.

Community Outbreaks: Two new community outbreaks were confirmed on Oct. 26: one in a daycare setting and the other in a business. In the past seven days (Oct. 20 through Oct. 26), 24 community outbreaks were confirmed.

On this day, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution asking the state for more local control when it comes to further coronavirus-related restrictions.

Meanwhile, San Diego Unified School District announced its tentative plan to move forward with Phase 2 of its reopening would take place in January, barring any shifts to the Purple Tier.

Oct. 26
Cases, Deaths: County officials reported 358 new positive COVID-19 cases out of 7,827 tests, a 5% positive rate. The region’s total is now 54,941. No new deaths were reported.

Community Outbreaks: One new community outbreak was confirmed on Oct. 25 in a youth sports setting. In the past seven days (Oct. 19 through Oct. 25), 27 community outbreaks were confirmed.

Two more coronavirus cases were confirmed among the Vista Unified School District student population Monday, increasing the total at the district to four.

Oct. 25
Cases, Deaths: County health officials reported 269 new positive COVID-19 cases out of 10,819 tests, for a 2% positive rate.

Two new deaths were also reported, bringing the total to 870. The deceased were identified as two men ranging in age from the late 60s to the early 70s.

Community Outbreaks: Two new community outbreaks were confirmed -- one in a healthcare setting and another in a restaurant setting. In the past seven days at this point, 26 community outbreaks were confirmed.

There have been presumed reinfections -- like the sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. But a case in Hong Kong is the first where testing proved it was another live virus and not viral fragments, reports NBC 7's Priya Sridhar.

Oct. 24
Cases, Deaths:
County officials reported 386 new positive COVID-19 cases out of 10,784 tests, a 4% positive rate. One new death was reported Thursday, pushing the total count to 868.

Community Outbreaks: Six new community outbreaks were confirmed and in the past seven days (Oct. 17 through Oct. 23), 25 community outbreaks were confirmed.

Oct. 23
Cases, Deaths:
County officials reported 430 new positive COVID-19 cases out of 13,360 tests, a 3% positive rate. One new death was reported Thursday, pushing the total count to 867.

Community Outbreaks: Five new community outbreaks were confirmed on Oct. 22. Twenty-one community outbreaks were confirmed in the last seven days at this point.

Oct. 22
Cases, Deaths:
According to the county, 235 new positive COVID-19 cases were confirmed out of 14,516 tests, making for a 3.3% positive rate. Three new deaths were reported Tuesday, increasing the death toll to 866.

Community Outbreaks: Two new community outbreaks were confirmed on Oct. 21: one in a business setting and one in a healthcare setting.

San Diego Unified School District, the second-largest school district in California with more than 125,000 students, released details Thursday about its four-phase reopening plan.

Oct. 21

Cases, Deaths: County health officials reported 263 new positive COVID-19 cases out of 10,499 tests -- a 3% positive rate.

The total number of cases is now at 53,263 and six new deaths reported, pushing the total count to 863.

Community Outbreaks: In the past seven days, 32 total community outbreaks have been reported. This represents 147 cases.

Six new community outbreaks have been reported: Two in a business setting, two in a restaurant setting, one in a restaurant/bar setting and one in a healthcare setting.

Michael Vu, from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters reminded the public to vote early and to use your mail-in ballot to cast your vote to prevent long lines and crowds at polling places on Election Day.

Vu explained that there will be fewer physical sites than there have been in the past. They are now consolidating those polling places into much bigger facilities that allow for social distancing and will have those places open over a four-day period instead of one day.

He also provided a diagram on how in-person voting will look like:

Oct. 20
Cases, Deaths: There were 265 new cases reported out of 9,110 tests for a 3% positivity rate. Four new deaths were reported. Officials said 857 people in the county have died of the illness since the pandemic began.

Community Outbreaks: Five new community outbreaks were confirmed on Oct. 19. Two were in businesses, one in a restaurant/bar setting, one in a K-12 school setting and one in a faith-based setting. In the past seven days (Oct. 13 through Oct. 19), 30 community outbreaks were confirmed.

San Diego barely avoided moving a step closer to more restrictive pandemic measures on Tuesday, with its case rate per 100,000 residents rising to 7.0. It remains in the Red Tier.

Also, California announced it will allow fans to attend outdoor professional sporting events in areas at less risk for the coronavirus, even as it prohibits larger theme parks from reopening

Oct. 19
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday shared how California plans to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available, declaring that the state will have it's own independent review and stating that a widespread vaccine may not be available until next year.

Cases, Deaths: San Diego's case rate is slowly climbing, according to public health officials. The adjusted case rate was 6.8, up from 6.5 in the county's previous report. There were 380 new cases reported Monday for a total of 52,735. That's out of 8,850 tests for a 4% positivity rate. About 7% of all cases have required hospitalization and 1.7% of cases were admitted to the ICU. There were no new deaths.

Community Outbreaks: There were no new community outbreaks reported on Monday, though in the last week, there were 31 community outbreaks -- well above the 7-per-week criteria the county uses to trace how widespread the disease is.

Oct. 18
Cases, Deaths:
The county reported 373 new cases among a batch of 12,233 tests. The county's total is now at 52,355. No new COVID-19 deaths were reported in San Diego County on Oct. 17. The total remains at 853.

Community Outbreaks: One new community outbreak was confirmed on Oct. 17. In the past seven days, 32 community outbreaks were confirmed.

Oct. 17
Cases, Deaths:
The county reported 201 new cases among a batch of 19,423 tests. The county's total is now at 51,982. Three additional deaths were reported bringing the total to 853.

Community Outbreaks: Two new community outbreaks were confirmed on Oct. 16. In the past seven days, 38 community outbreaks were confirmed.

Oct. 16
Public health officials on Friday called an impromptu news briefing to call attention to San Diego County's rising case numbers, which have the potential to push the region into a more restrictive tier in the coming weeks unless residents "take action to change the outcome."

Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten called San Diego County's COVID-19 tier data "too close for comfort" as the region sat on the edge of the red and purple tiers.

"Today we are here to sound the alarm that our actions matter and we all must work together to keep San Diego County out of the purple tier, or Tier 1, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said.

Fletcher said, in the last 48 hours, the county's positive case rate has spiked. If the trend continues, the county could find itself in the most restrictive tier by next week.

Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten said the data was "too close for comfort."

In order to change the course, officials called on San Diegans to avoid gatherings, wear their face masks, wash their hands, and stay home if they feel any symptoms of COVID-19. They also urged employers to allow employees to telecommute wherever possible.

Cases, Deaths: The county reported 311 new cases among a batch of 6,724 tests, a 5% positive rate. The county's total is now at 51,781. Three additional deaths were reported bringing the total to 850.

Community Outbreaks: One new community outbreak was confirmed on Oct. 15. In the past seven days, 50 community outbreaks were confirmed.

First Half of October 2020

Oct. 15
Cases, Deaths: San Diego County health officials reported 143 new positive COVID-19 cases out of 8,315 tests. The total number of cases in the county is now at 51,470. Three new deaths were reported bringing the total to 847. One woman and two men died. Their ages ranged from early 70s to the late 80s. All had underlying medical conditions.

Community Outbreaks: Seventeen new community outbreaks were confirmed on Oct. 14. Ten were reported in business settings, three in restaurant/bar settings, two in faith-based agency settings, one in a food processing setting, and one in a restaurant. In the past seven days, 47 community outbreaks were confirmed. The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.

Oct. 14
Cases, Deaths: San Diego County reported 303 new COVID-19 positive cases out of 9,662 tests a 3% positive rate. This brings the total to 51,327 cases. Four new deaths were reported bringing the county's total to 844.

Community Outbreaks: Forty-seven total community outbreaks were reported in the past seven days. On Wednesday, four new community outbreaks were reported: two in business settings, one in a restaurant setting, and one in a restaurant/ bar setting.

The state added a new metric that will be used to monitor the county's status. Health Equity Metric is based on the Healthy Places Index. Each community area receives an HPI score. The HPI score is based on 8 healthy community conditions that includes economic, education, transportation, social, neighborhood, housing, clean environment, and healthcare. This new metric will not move the county back a tier.

The county will be offering six free flu shot sites starting on October 22.

San Diego County health officials are urging locals to get their flu shot amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. NBC 7's Nicole Gomez reports.

Oct. 13
State Metrics: San Diego County remains in Tier 2, according to the state's weekly (Tuesday) assessment of county metrics. Our state-calculated, adjusted case rate is 6.8 per 100,000 residents, up from 6.5.

The testing positivity percentage is 3.5%, the same as last week. While this metric meets the requirement for Tier 3, the county cannot advance until case rate and health equity metric satisfy the requirements.

San Diego County's health equity metric is 5.7, down from 6.2 from the week prior. The metric accounts for testing positivity in areas with the lowest health conditions. It won't be used as a determining factor for moving counties to more restrictive tiers, but it must meet 5.2 or less for two straight weeks before a county can advance tiers.

On this day, Point Loma Nazarene University ordered on-campus students to shelter in place due to COVID-19 cases among some students.

Cases, Deaths: San Diego County reported 278 new coronavirus cases (2.7%) out of 10,078 tests. The county's case total is 51,046. Fourteen new deaths were reported, bringing the county's total to 840.

Community Outbreaks: Six new community outbreaks were reported, including one in a K-12 school setting. Three others were identified in restaurant/bar settings, and two in private residences.

The latest reported outbreaks push the county's seven-day total to 52, which is more than seven times the threshold of seven in seven days.

Twelve new cases on campus triples the previous total. NBC 7's Catherine Garcia shares the details.

Oct. 12
Cases, Deaths: San Diego County reported 195 new coronavirus cases (4%) out of 7,573 tests. The county's case total is 50,746. No new deaths were reported. Officials say 826 San Diego County residents have died of the disease.

Community Outbreaks: One new community outbreak was confirmed on Oct. 11 in a restaurant/bar. In the past seven days (Oct. 5 through Oct. 11), 46 community outbreaks were confirmed.

Testing: San Diego’s state-calculated, adjusted case rate is 6.5 per 100,000 residents, down from 6.7. The testing positivity percentage is 3.5%, the same as last week

Oct. 11
Cases, Deaths: San Diego County health officials reported 408 new COVID-19 cases out of 9,875 tests for a 4% positive rate. The number brings the total to 50,551 cases. One new COVID-19 death was reported bringing the region’s total to 826. The deceased was a man in his mid-40s who had an underlying medical condition.

Community Outbreaks: Seven new outbreaks were confirmed on Oct. 10: one in a faith-based agency, one in a restaurant, one in a grocery store setting, two in businesses, and two in restaurants/bars. The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.

Oct. 10
Cases, Deaths: San Diego County health officials reported 320 positive COVID-19 cases out of 11,371 tests reported to the county on Oct. 9. The region's total is now 50,143. Two new COVID-19 deaths were reported bringing the region’s total to 825. Four people died, two women and two men, with ages ranging from early to late 60s. Three of them had underlying medical conditions.

Community Outbreaks: Four new community outbreaks were confirmed on Oct. 9: two in restaurant/bar and two in business settings. In the past seven days, 38 community outbreaks were confirmed. The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, is urging people to take precautions to stop rising COVID-19 case numbers and avoid a very difficult winter ahead. NBCLX's Clark Fouraker breaks down Dr. Fauci's grim warning and his advice to prevent outbreaks.

Oct. 9
Cases, Deaths: San Diego County health officials reported 327 positive COVID-19 cases out of 13,829 tests reported to the county on Oct. 8. The region's total is now 49,823. Two new COVID-19 deaths were reported bringing the region’s total to 821. One man and one woman died, their ages range from the early 60s to the late 90s. Both had underlying medical conditions.

Community Outbreaks: Eight new community outbreaks were confirmed on Oct. 8: five in business settings and three in a restaurant/bar setting. In the past seven days, 37 community outbreaks were confirmed. The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.

Oct. 8
Cases, Deaths: San Diego County health officials reported 291 positive COVID-19 cases out of 10,915 tests, bringing the case total for the region to 49,446. Six new deaths were also reported.

Community Outbreaks: Nineteen new outbreaks were confirmed. In the past seven days at this point, 32 community outbreaks have been confirmed, which is more than four times the trigger of seven or more in seven days.

This was the last day residents were able to apply for the COVID-19 emergency rental assistance program.

Oct. 7
Cases, Deaths: County officials reported 354 positive COVID-19 cases out of 10,615 tests, for a 3% positive rate. Sadly, seven new deaths were also reported.

Community Outbreaks: Nine new outbreaks were confirmed.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) unveiled Tuesday details of a new metric that will help the state determine if a large county should slow down or accelerate reopenings based on how the COVID-19 infection in spreading in its most vulnerable communities.

The new "equity metric" is intended to address the spread of the novel coronavirus among the Black, Latino and Pacific Islander communities, which have all been disproportionately affected by the virus for a variety of reasons.

Predictions that a vaccine may come by the end of the year don’t necessarily mean the development we’ve been waiting for is finally here, reports NBC 7's Claudette Stefanian

Oct. 6
San Diego County's weekly report card on the coronavirus permitted the county to remain in the state's Red Tier.

Cases, Deaths: Regional authorities announced 161 new cases were confirmed among San Diego County residents, increasing the county's total to 48,821.

Three new COVID-19 deaths were reported in San Diego County. The region’s total is now 806. All of the newest victims had underlying health conditions.

Community Oubreaks: No new community outbreaks were confirmed.

Oct. 5
Cases, Deaths: San Diego County health officials reported 224 new COVID-19 cases out of 6,577 tests for a 3% positivity rate. The county's total case number increased to 48,660.

None of the new cases were linked to San Diego State University, according to the county, but seven previously reported confirmed cases are now associated with SDSU.

No new COVID-19 deaths were reported in San Diego County, keeping the total at 803.

Outbreaks: No new outbreaks were reported in the region. In the last seven days, 23 community outbreaks were identified.

Oct. 4
Cases, Deaths: San Diego County health officials reported 236 new COVID-19 cases out of 8,797 tests for a 3% positivity rate.

Four of the 236 new cases were linked to San Diego State University, according to the county. Two previously reported confirmed cases were also connected to the school.

The region reported five new deaths in connection to the virus -- men whose ages ranged from the mid-40s to mid-80s. All five patients had underlying medical conditions.

As of this date, 803 people have died in San Diego County in connection to COVID-19.

Outbreaks: No new outbreaks were reported in the region. In the last seven days, 24 community outbreaks have been identified.

Consumer Reports and NBC 7's Consumer Bob look at what effect air purifiers can have in the fight against viruses.

Oct. 3
Cases, Deaths: The county reported 409 new cases were confirmed out of 9,134 tests for a 4% positivity rate on Oct. 2. The region's new total number is now at 48,200.

Unfortunately, four additional COVID-19-related deaths were reported on Saturday. All but one of the patients had underlying medical conditions.

Outbreaks: County health officials identified two new community outbreaks, both in a government setting. In the past seven days, 25 community outbreaks have been confirmed in the region.

Oct. 1
Cases, DeathsOutbreaks: Authorities confirmed 306 new COVID-19 cases in the county, bringing the total to date to 47,791. There were 9,216 tests administered. The percentage of new laboratory-confirmed cases was 3%.

Three of those cases are connected to San Diego State University. SDSU is aware of 1,110 probable and confirmed cases -- including faculty, staff and visitors -- as of Sept. 30.

Two additional COVID-19 deaths were reported in San Diego County on Oct. 1, pushing the total to 794.

Community Outbreaks: Two new community outbreaks were confirmed at this time.


The Coronavirus Pandemic in San Diego County, Month by Month

For a look back at what happened in San Diego County in September 2020, click here.

For day-by-day look back at everything that happened in August 2020 in San Diego County during the coronavirus pandemic, click here.

For a look back at July 2020 in San Diego County during the pandemic, click here.

To read about what happened in June 2020 in San Diego County during the coronavirus pandemic, 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.

To look back at what happened in March 2020 in San Diego County during the coronavirus pandemic, click here.


Mid-March 2020: The Coronavirus Pandemic Reaches 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.

Landmarks Shutter, Events Canceled
San Diego’s biggest tourist attractions, landmarks and events closed or were canceled. Local casinos followed, as well as gyms and fitness centers.

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.


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

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