Dr. Wilma Wooten at media briefing
Dr. Wilma Wooten briefs the media on Friday. Image from live stream

San Diego County public health officials reported 183 new cases of COVID-19 and two deaths on Friday, but noted that the percentage of positive cases is falling as testing ramps up.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said it was the largest jump in cases to date, but the increase in testing was even greater, so that the percentage of new positive cases actually dropped slightly.

“Now it is important to keep in context that 183 positive cases is out of 3,122 tests reported. That is the single largest day of testing we have had,” he said. “So even though the number of cases today is greater, it is a lower percentage of the total number of tests reported.”

Fletcher and Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, noted that the percentage of positive cases continues to decline, a key indicator in determining when the county can reopen.

This percentage is dropping as the county continues to increase testing, which has risen from under 100 a day at the beginning of the epidemic to over 1,000 a day in recent weeks and now over 3,000 in a single day. The county’s goal is to administer over 5,000 tests a day.

Wooten said there have been a total of 2,826 cases and 102 deaths. She said the latest victims were both women, one in her late 40s and the other in her mid 60s. Both had underlying medical conditions.

She expressed optimism about the county’s hospital capacity, noting that only 7% of hospital beds are currently being used by coronavirus patients.

“While the overall bed capacity is staying level, the COVID-19 cases are slowly decreasing. So this is good news.” she said.

Fletcher expressed concern with the high number of cases south of the border and said local leaders are asking for more strict testing for those crossing into the United States from Mexico. Officials said a higher rate of cases in south county towns and in the Otay Mesa Detention Center may be related to those crossing the border.

The county is calling for federal assistance to take people’s temperatures at the border and help enforce a mandatory two-week quarantine period for anyone taking nonessential international trips.

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Chris Jennewein

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