By Alberto Garcia
San Diego County health officials report that the daily death rate in the county has fallen below 100 per 100,000 residents for the second day in a row and could get San Diego removed from the State’s monitoring watch list if the trend continues through Friday.
The death rate in San Diego County on Wednesday and Thursday were 96.5 per 100,000, the state level where additional health restrictions must be in place. If Friday also falls below 100 deaths, the County would then be removed from the State’s monitoring list, the first step in reopening schools and other facilities.
After being removed from the monitoring list, the county must stay under the 100 deaths per 100,000 for 14 consecutive days to be relieved of the additional restrictions. Schools would be able to open after the 14 day period.
“We are seeing progress, but we are in the middle of a marathon, not a sprint to the finish line right in front of us,” County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Thursday during the county’s briefing. “Our goal is not just to have the rate of cases fall below 100 per 100,000, but to keep it there.”
On Thursday, the county also released new COVID-19 reports showing 266 new cases and seven deaths Thursday, raising the county’s totals to 33,659 cases and 615 deaths.
96% of the deaths in the County had some underlying medical condition that may have made the patient more vulnerable to the coronavirus. Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said the leading underlying causes which helped contribute to death were hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, dementia/Alzheimer’s, and chronic kidney disease.
Latinos continue to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, with Latinos being 61.3% of all COVID hospitalizations and 45.4% of deaths although Latinos make up 35% of San Diego County’s population.
To help combat the spread of the virus from Mexico, a new free COVID-19 testing site opened Wednesday at the San Ysidro Port of Entry PedEast crossing. Testing will be available from weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 12:00pm and will focus on testing essential workers and American citizens who live in Tijuana.
“We know that communities in South Bay have been hit the hardest by COVID-19,” said Wooten. “The location was selected because of the increase in cases in the region and the number of people, especially essential workers who cross daily.”
No appointments are required for the border testing, and those tested will not be asked about their immigration status or who lives with them, county health officials said.