Supervisor Nathan Fletcher speaks to the media on Thursday. Image from livestream

San Diego County health officials said Thursday a third death has occured in the county as the number of coronavirus cases grew by 64 to 341.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Yphantides said the latest victim was an 87-year-old woman but had no further details to provide.

“We now have what I would call substantial transmission here in the county,” he said at a regular afternoon press conference to provide updates on the pandemic.

Later in the afternoon, health officials reported 341 cases among San Diego County residents, an increase of 64 from Wednesday. The county is no longer including non-residents, who are primarily military personnel, in the daily totals.

Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Greg Cox released the status of a number of critical resources:

  • The county now has 2,026 motel rooms for homeless individuals who have symptoms, have tested positive or are otherwise at risk, with 239 occupied
  • The county has distributed 423,805 N95 masks and 109,550 surgical masks to local hospitals
  • Supplies for a military field hospital are being shipped to San Diego
  • Volunteers are making some 395,000 older N95 masks usable by sewing new elastic bands

Fletcher said the overarching goal of the county’s efforts is to “flatten the curve of the epidemic” while increasing the capacity of local hospitals to treat the critically ill.

Cox likened the growing epidemic to a wildfire that you can’t see, and said social distancing is equivalent to clearing brush around a threatened home.

“In a wildfire, we can see the flames and the smoke,” he said, “but the enemy we’re facing today is invisible.”

Updated at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, 2020

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Chris Jennewein

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