Dr. Scott Eisman of Scripps Health briefs media about the complications of COVID-19. Image from video

San Diego County public health officials reported 559 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and warned that the virus is rapidly spreading among young people.

“In the past 10 days to two weeks, we have been consistently, with the exception of a couple days, between 400 and 550-plus cases daily,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer.

Wooten shared data showing that one in 100 county residents aged 20 to 29 have tested positive for the disease, and that age group now accounts for 24.9% of all cases. She was joined at a media briefing by Dr. Scott Eisman of Scripps Health to explain the danger for young people.

“We have younger and younger patients showing up with more and more significant complications,” said Eisman, a pulmonologist. “It’s certainly true that the mortality rate for those that are younger is lower than those that are older, but it’s also true that the mortality rate is not zero.”

He said younger people seem to think it’s like the annual flu, “but the complications of this illness are far greater.” Those include stroke and long-term damage to lungs, kidneys, liver and brain.

“We don’t really know at this point how this will play out because the disease is too new,” Eisman said, urging young people to wear masks and practice social distancing.

The county said 8,436 test results were received in the past day, with 6.6% positive. The 14-day rolling average of positive tests was 6.3%.

While the average was below 3% a month ago, Dr. Eric McDonald, the county’s medical director of epidemiology, said San Diego’s rate remains “fortunately lower than actually any other county in Southern California.”

The latest report also included 12 more deaths from COVID-19.

Four new community outbreaks were reported, bringing the weekly total to 14 — well above the county’s metric of no more than seven in a one-week span. The new outbreaks were reported in a laboratory, hair salon, barber shop and restaurant/bar.

Since the first local case in March, the county has administered 458,888 tests, resulting in 21,446 cases and 448 deaths.

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Chris Jennewein

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