Supervisor Nathan Fletcher makes a point during the press briefing. Image from livestream

San Diego County public health officials delivered their last regularly scheduled COVID-19 briefing as new cases continue to fall and California officially reopened from the pandemic.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher noted that Tuesday’s briefing was exactly 501 days after the county activated its emergency medical operations center to deal with the pandemic.

Initially the briefings were daily, as worried San Diegans demanded information about a frightening new disease, then weekly as vaccinations began. Daily case numbers will continue to be released, but there won’t be formal briefings.

The data for Tuesday showed 61 new cases, but no deaths. Out of 7,605 test results received in the past day, just 0.8% were positive and the 14-day rolling average remained at that same level.

“Today we feel good. And it’s OK to feel good. We have made it through a truly historically challenging situation.” Fletcher said.

“San Diego showed our resilience. We showed our willingness to endure tremendous hardship,” he explained.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer concurred, but warned that the pandemic isn’t completely over, noting that children under the age of 12 still need to be vaccinated once that’s approved.

“I’m feeling very grateful, very hopeful and optimistic. We have vaccinated a lot of people in San Diego,” she said during the livestreamed press conference. “We are very excited about where we are today, but it doesn’t mean that things are over.”

She cited research from Johns Hopkins University that showed when daily cases fall to 17 or below in a population the size of San Diego County, then the pandemic will be fully under control. “We aren’t anywhere close to that,” she acknowledged.

As of Tuesday, 1,763,467 county residents have been fully vaccinated and another 351,485 have received their first dose. The vaccination rate is one of the highest in the country.

Fletcher thanked the county’s health workers, residents who staffed essential jobs, nonprofit agencies, and even the news media for keeping the public informed.

“We’re now poised for a tremendous economy recovery” he said.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.