Dr. Nick Yphantides briefs the media on Tuesday. Image from live stream

San Diego County public health officials reported 173 COVID-19 cases and five more deaths Tuesday while expressing confidence in reaching a goal of 5,100 coronavirus tests daily.

So far there have been 48,303 tests, 3,314 positive cases and 118 deaths since the pandemic began in San Diego County.

The latest victims were two women, one in her mid 50s and other in her mid 80s, and three men, one in his mid 70s and two in their late 80s.

Nick Macchione, director of the Health and Human Services Agency, said the county will open more drive-through testing locations, increase the number of lanes and coordinate supplies to soon reach 5,100 tests a day. By comparison, the county reported 2,545 tests over the past 24 hours.

He said the county now employs 100 people he called “disease detectives” working to trace the contacts of those infected and will bring on 20 more this week. Other officials said as many as 400 may ultimately be hired for this work.

Macchione called the strategy “T3” for “test, trace and treat” and promised that “in the coming days and weeks we’ll be accelerating all three components of our T3 strategy.”

Throughout Tuesday’s media briefing, officials stressed the importance of wearing face coverings, which will be required in public beginning Friday.

“Wearing a face covering is similar to putting on sunscreen when you go out in the sun,” said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. “It similarly provides a level of protection.”

Coverings only have to be on when you are within six feet of another person, but officials suggested keeping the covering around your neck, ready to pull up when necessary.

Dr. Nick Yphantides, the county’s chief medical officer, said there is growing evidence that even homemade cloth masks can protect you and others from transmission of the virus. He said the slight discomfort of wearing one is worth the health benefit for the entire community.

“Come on people, let’s do this together,” he said. “We are San Diego.”

Show comments

Chris Jennewein

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