A drive-up testing site in Imperial Beach. Image from County News Center video

San Diego County public health officials reported 278 new cases of coronavirus and two deaths Wednesday while beginning a two-week period of stability in the state rankings and associated health orders.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said the new-case rate per 100,000 population would have to rise on each of the next two Tuesdays before San Diego could be moved from the red “substantial” tier to the purple “widespread” tier in which indoor business operations would have to close.

“This is great news for our region, and we must continue, at a minimum, to maintain this red tier status or even improve our status,” Wooten said.

She expressed optimism at a press conference, noting that the number of community outbreaks was falling — there have been only 13 in the past week — and there did not appear to be a surge in cases related to the Labor Day holiday.

Out of 5,091 test results received in the past day, officials reported 5.5% were positive, but the 14-day rolling average of positive tests remained at 3.6%.

The county reached a milestone in testing, passing the 1 million mark with 1,002,154 administered. Wooten offered “a great thank you to all of our community partners who are conducting testing.”

Supervisor Greg Cox said the county continues to press the California Department of Health to adjust the way it ranks counties, praising Wooten for “fighting tooth and nail for the state to take several factors into consideration.”

Wooten said San Diego County should get credit for having substantial hospital capacity, a well-developed contact-tracing system, and significant testing among vulnerable populations.

The outbreak among San Diego State University students appeared to be subsiding, with only 19 cases reported in the past day. There have been nearly 900 confirmed cases since Aug. 24.

The county has seen a total of 45,525 cases and 767 deaths since March.

Chris Jennewein

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