While vaccinations increased in San Diego County in May 2021, COVID-19 cases took a dip. The Pfizer vaccine became available to kids between the ages of 12-15, giving another boost to vaccination numbers. Each day, we got closer to the county's wider reopening (we see you, June 15). Here's a day-by-day look back at what happened in San Diego County this month as the pandemic continued.
COVID-19 Patients in San Diego County
San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) officials have reported 280,253 positive COVID-19 cases and 3,756 COVID-related deaths since Feb. 14, 2020.
The county continues to test and vaccinate residents every day as part of the effort to advance through the state's color-coded, tiered reopening blueprint and get back to "normal."
Here's the San Diego County Public Health Order as of May. 6, 2021:
Second Half of May 2021
Cases & Deaths: San Diego County public health officials reported 45 new COVID-19 cases. No new deaths were reported, marking four days in a row where the total remained at 3,756.
Memorial Day Weekend Events: Gradually, San Diego's nightlife seemed to be making its return with the comeback of live music events at Petco Park. Additionally, San Diego saw campgrounds saw a record number of bookings over the Memorial Day 2021 weekend.
“We are up in reservations throughout the course of the year higher than we have ever been and it will be a record year 2021…right now it’s hard to get reservations at any campground on the weekend so people are starting to come midweek,” said Clint Bell, whose family owns and operates seven of Kampgrounds of America’s over 500 resorts across the U.S. and Canada.
Cases & Deaths: Officials reported 58 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths.
Cases & Deaths: Officials reported 108 new COVID-19 cases; the percentage of new positive cases was 1.1%. For the second straight day, there were no additional COVID-related deaths reported.
Cases & Deaths: Officials reported 108 new COVID-19 cases, bring the county's tally to 280,150. Of all cases, 15,397 or 5.5% had required hospitalization. No new deaths were reported.
Community Outbreaks: Two new community outbreaks were confirmed, both in college/university settings. In the past seven days, seven community outbreaks had been confirmed.
Vaccine Incentives: Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced incentives to encourage Californians to get their COVID-19 vaccine with a $116.5 million program – the largest vaccine incentive program in the U.S.
Newsom made the announcement as the state ramps up efforts to vaccinate as many residents as possible ahead of the June 15 targeted reopening date.
Cases & Deaths: Officials reported 101 more COVID-19 cases to the county and one new COVID-related death.
Community Outbreaks: One new community outbreak was confirmed in a TK-12 school setting. In the past seven days, nine community outbreaks had been confirmed. The community outbreaks trigger is seven or more in seven days.
Cases & Deaths: San Diego County public health officials reported 73 new COVID-19 cases – again dipping under 100 – out of 12,296 tests. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases stood at 1%, and the target is less than 8%. Meanwhile, 2 new COVID-19 deaths were reported, bringing the region’s total to 3,755 COVID-related deaths since the county began tracking cases on Feb. 14, 2020.
Vaccines: San Diego County had surpassed the 50% full vaccination mark for eligible residents, but efforts were still underway to meet the county’s goal of vaccinating 75% of its eligible population. To help reach people in areas with low vaccination rates, the county expanded the number of mobile vaccination sites. Here’s how to find those mobile vaccination sites.
Moderna for Teens: Moderna said its COVID-19 vaccine was 100% effective in a study of adolescents ages 12 to 17. The company plans to ask the FDA to expand the emergency use of its vaccine for teens in early June, just like Pfizer did earlier this month.
Cases & Deaths: San Diego County reported 71 new coronavirus cases – marking the fifth straight day with less than 100 new cases. It’s a streak the county had not seen in a long, long time. Four new COVID-related deaths were confirmed.
Cases & Deaths: San Diego County public health officials reported 25 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths. This data brought the county’s case total to 279,714 while the COVID-related death toll was reduced to 3,749 following a county audit of deaths. Two previously reported deaths were removed from the case and death counts during routine quality assurance and reinspection because the cause was determined not to be COVID-19.
Vaccines: More than 4 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine had been received by the county, with nearly 3.56 million doses administered. More vaccination stats, as of May 24:
- Nearly 1.9 million San Diego County residents had received one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines
- The county was 90.3% of the way toward reaching it’s goal of vaccinating 75% of residents age 12 and older – or 2,101,936 people
- Approximately 1.46 million – or 69.7% of the county’s goal – of residents age 12 and older were now fully vaccinated with either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or the one-dose J&J vaccine
- The county reported receiving 252,610 vaccines the week prior
Meanwhile, San Diego County began its “Our Health Is Worth a Shot” challenge, allowing youth between the ages of 12 and 24 to submit video and visual art projects encouraging people to get vaccinated. Details on prizes and eligibility can be found here.
Cases & Deaths: San Diego County reported 76 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths.
Cases & Deaths: San Diego County reported 60 new cases of COVID-19. A total of 13,458 tests were reported for a 0.4% positive rate. Three new COVID-related deaths were reported.
Reopening California – No More Social Distancing: California’s top health official, Dr. Mark Ghaly, said that once the state reopens on June 15, businesses will be allowed to operate at full capacity and social distancing will no longer be required. The 6-foot rule had been in place for nearly the entire pandemic. Ghaly said that dramatically lower virus cases and increasing vaccinations meant it would be safe for the state to remove nearly all restrictions next month. For further details, click here.
Cases & Deaths: County public health officials reported 64 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths. One previously reported death was removed from the county’s case and death counts during routine Quality Assurance and reinspection because the COVID-19 diagnosis was only shown in an antigen test but could not be confirmed in a subsequent PCR test, according to the county.
Community Outbreaks: Four new community outbreaks were confirmed: one in a business setting, one in a faith-based agency setting, one in a residence and one in a restaurant/bar setting. In the past seven days, 16 community outbreaks had been confirmed.
Vaccines: More than half of all San Diegans 12 years old and older — 50.3% — had been fully vaccinated, county officials announced. The goal continued to be to fully vaccinate 75% of San Diego County residents 12 and older or 2,101,936 people.
Cases & Deaths: Officials reported 145 new COVID-19 cases and four COVID-related deaths. One previously reported death was removed from the case and death counts after it was found to be a duplicate report during routine Quality Assurance and reinspection.
Added to the grim tally: four men who died between May 11, 2020 and June 11, 2020. The county said these deaths from 2020 were added to the list after a rigorous review of death certificates that were incorrect or incomplete and required the analysis of the patients’ medical records to determine if they were COVID-19 deaths.
Cases & Deaths: 91 new COVID-19 cases were reported to the county, plus four new COVID-19 deaths. One of those deaths was from 2020, added after a review of death certificates by the county to determine if COVID-19 was the cause.
Community Outbreaks: Six new community outbreaks were confirmed. Two were in grocery settings, two were in faith-based agency settings, one was in a college/university setting and one was in a daycare/preschool/childcare setting.
Cases & Deaths: Officials reported 108 new COVID-19 cases but no new deaths on this date.
Cases & Deaths: Health officials reported 47 new COVID-19 cases out of 6,450 tests, a daily positivity rate less than 1%. The region's total stood at 279,145. No new deaths were reported.
Community Outbreaks: The county reported nine community outbreaks over the last seven days, its lowest seven-day total since last June. The target is less than seven outbreaks in seven days.
Hospitalizations: The county had nine new COVID-related hospitalizations over the span of a week. As of May 17, there were 109 confirmed hospitalized patients – and public health officials said both stats were worth noting: they were the lowest levels the county had seen since March 2020.
Cases & Deaths: Health officials reported 108 new COVID-19 cases out of 8,520 tests for a 1% positive rate. Five new deaths were reported bringing the total to 3,742.
Hospitalizations: Public health officials said 130 people remained hospitalized with COVID-19 – and that number had stayed the same throughout the weekend. Officials said there were 44 ICU-staffed and available beds in the county.
First Half of May 2021
Cases & Deaths: San Diego County public health officials reported 138 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths.
Hospitalizations: A total of 130 people were hospitalized, a decrease from the 136 one day prior.
Vaccines: County public health officials said that starting on May 14, kids ages 12-17 who want to get a COVID-19 vaccination in San Diego County without a parent present would be able to do so by providing a signed form to show that their parent/guardian has given permission.
Cases & Deaths: Officials reported 261 cases of COVID-19 cases; the percentage of new positive cases was 2%. Three new COVID-related deaths were also added to the toll – one from September 2020 and another from April 2021.
Pfizer Vaccine for Kids: San Diego County public health officials started offering Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to kids ages 12 to 15 on after approval from the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people on this date, too, saying people could stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.
The new CDC guidance still called for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters but it would help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues — even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated, the agency said.
This created some confusion about face masks in California and in San Diego County.
NBC 7 reached out to both the California Department of Public Health and to San Diego County to find out whether the CDC guidelines applies in San Diego County.
“The county, as always, will follow CDC and CDPH guidance,” the spokesperson said.
And so, San Diegans waited for clarity.
Cases & Deaths: Health officials reported 190 cases of COVID-19; the percentage of new positive cases was 1%. No new COVID-19 deaths were reported.
Pfizer Vaccine for Kids: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on expanded usage of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15, clearing the way for pediatricians to start giving out the shots across the U.S. as early as May 13.
In San Diego County, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said county public health officials fully expected to be able to start vaccinating this young group, also by May 13, pending the expected approval Wednesday night by the Western States Scientific Safety Review and California Department of Public Health.
“We will be in a strong position to meet the needs of 12-to-15-year olds as we move forward. And we have plenty of vaccines available at this point,” Fletcher said.
California’s Coronavirus Update: California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the nation’s most populous state would stop requiring people to wear masks in almost all circumstances on June 15, describing a world he said will look “a lot like the world we entered into before the pandemic.”
“We’re not wearing face coverings. We’re not restricted in any way, shape or form from doing the old things that we used to do, save for huge, large-scale indoor convention events like that, where we use our common sense,” Newsom said in an interview.
When asked about this during San Diego County’s COVID-19 briefing, Dr. Wilma Wooten said San Diego would follow the state guidelines, but all would depend on the region’s case rate.
Cases & Deaths: County officials reported 94 new COVID-19 cases, the first time new cases dipped below 100 in nearly a year, Fletcher said. It marked the lowest number of new cases since the county reported 73 cases nearly one year ago – on May 31, 2020.
“This is encouraging. We continue to see our case counts trending in a positive direction," Fletcher added.
Four new COVID-19 deaths were reported, bringing that toll to 3,729.
Cases & Deaths: San Diego County reported 125 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths as hospitalizations and case rates remained steady.
Vaccines: In all since the vaccine rollout nearly five months ago, San Diego County had received 3,680,575 doses of coronavirus vaccine and had administered 3,204,616 of those doses. Other vaccination stats, at this point:
- 1,740,571 people had received one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines
- The county was 86.3% of the way toward reaching its goal of vaccinating 75% of San Diego County residents age 16 and older (or 2,017,011 San Diego residents)
- 1,270,808 – or 63% of the county's goal – in the 16+ age range are fully vaccinated with either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the single-dose J&J vaccine.
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines would be available on May 12 at three San Diego Unified School District high school campuses for anyone age 16 and over. Sharp Health would offer Pfizer vaccines at Clairemont High School, UC San Diego would administer Pfizer vaccines at Morse and San Diego high schools.
California Comeback Plan: Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a $100 billion economic recovery plan that includes $600 checks for two-thirds of Californians -- those who make up to $75,000 a year. Families making up to $75,000 combined with at least one child will get an extra $500. To learn more, click here.
Vaccine for Kids: The FDA approved a request from Pfizer and BioNTech to give their vaccine to kids age 12 to 15 on an emergency use basis, which would allow states to get middle school students vaccinated before the fall.
The CDC's vaccine advisory committee was set to review the approval, and, if approved, doses for adolescents could be distributed as soon as this week.
The companies said in late March that the vaccine was found to be 100% effective in a clinical trial of more than 2,000 adolescents. They also said the vaccine elicited a "robust" antibody response in the children, exceeding those in an earlier trial of older teens and young adults. Side effects were generally consistent with those seen in adults, they added.
Cases & Deaths: San Diego County reported 233 new coronavirus cases; no new deaths were reported.
Community Outbreaks: Sixteen outbreaks had been reported over the last seven days, as San Diego inched closer to getting below the trigger of seven in a week's time. Once there, public health officials will modify the public health order.
Cases & Deaths: Officials reported 190 new COVID-19 cases; the percentage of new positive cases was 2%. No new COVID-related deaths were reported.
Cases & Deaths: Officials reported 226 COVID-19 cases. A total of 11,265 coronavirus tests were reported, and the percentage of new positive cases was 2%. Seven new COVID-19 deaths were added to the county's toll, which increased to 3,725.
Cases & Deaths: County public health officials added 210 new COVID-19 cases to the tally; the percentage of new positive cases was 1%. Two new COVID-related deaths were also reported.
Vaccines: San Diego County leaders unveiled a new program that allows local establishments to host pop-up COVID-19 vaccine sites to make it more convenient for workers to get their shots.
Yellow Tier? Not for San Diego: While other major cities in California had shifted to the state’s least restrictive yellow tier in its color-coded reopening system, San Diego remained in the more restrictive orange tier. It was looking like it would stay that way until the state's targeted June 15 "full reopening" date.
In a coronavirus county briefing, San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher said he was “not optimistic” San Diego would move tiers before June 15.
Cases & Deaths: San Diego County public health officials reported 226 new COVID-19 cases; the percentage of new positive cases was 1%. No new COVID-19 deaths were reported.
Vaccinations: San Diego County has surpassed 3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered. At this point, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said 63% of the eligible population of San Diego residents had received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 44% had received their second dose.
Meanwhile, three vaccine sites planned to offer new evening hours -- to reach more people after work: a site in Oceanside, one in Chula Vista, one in El Cajon, each open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The county also said it would extend appointment windows for its sites, from 2-3 days to 7 days, to give people a wider timeframe to set vaccination appointments.
Cases & Deaths: 219 new cases of COVID-19 were added to the county's tracking, plus three new COVID-related deaths.
Vaccinations: Walmart, Sam's Club, and CVS announced a shift to walk-up appointments this week, meaning an appointment is no longer required for a patient to get the shot at their pharmacies nationwide.
That's about 1,115 CVS Pharmacy locations and 308 Sam's Club and Walmart pharmacies in California offering more vaccine availability -- on top of some local health sites that have also switched to a walk-up approach.
Cases & Deaths: San Diego County public health officials reported 186 new COVID-19 cases. One new COVID-related death was added to the toll.
Meanwhile, on Twitter, a rep for UC San Diego Health said the facility reported zero new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours -- a first since testing launched there more than a year ago.
National Vaccination Effort: President Joe Biden set a new vaccination goal to deliver at least one shot to 70% of adult Americans by July 4. Biden also called for states to make vaccines available on a walk-in basis and said he will direct many pharmacies to do likewise. Details here.
Cases & Deaths: Officials reported 154 cases of COVID-19 in San Diego County, bringing the region's total to 276,520 since the county began tracking coronavirus cases on Feb. 14, 2020. Six new COVID-19 deaths were reported, bringing that toll to 3,712.
Cases & Deaths: San Diego County public health officials reported 210 new COVID-19 positive cases and four new COVID-related deaths.
Community Outbreaks: Three new outbreaks were reported; 24 had been reported over the stretch of the past seven days.
The Coronavirus Pandemic in San Diego County, Month by Month
For a look back at what happened during the pandemic in San Diego County in April 2021, click here.
For a look back at what happened during the pandemic in San Diego County in March 2021, click here.
For a look back at what happened during the pandemic in San Diego County in February 2021, click here.
For a look back at what happened during the pandemic in San Diego County in January 2021, click here.
For a look back at what happened during the pandemic 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: The Coronavirus Pandemic Reaches San Diego County - Here's How Things Unfolded, At First
A lot happened in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic reached San Diego County and COVID-19 cases surged. Here's a quick look back the month that changed everything in our county -- and took us into what would soon become our "new normal" of the pandemic era.
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, 2020).
More than 480 passengers from a coronavirus-ridden cruise ship that docked at the Port of Oakland were flown to MCAS Miramar March 10, 2020, to March 12, 2020, to complete a mandatory 14-day federal quarantine. On March 27, 2020, 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, 2020, 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, 2020, 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, 2020, 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