A model of the deadly coronavirus. Courtesy County News Center

San Diego County reported 409 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths Saturday, raising the county’s totals to 48,200 cases and 798 fatalities as the city of San Diego reopened its 289 playgrounds.

Three men and one woman died – between Sept. 26 and Oct. 2 – and their ages ranged from the early 60s to mid-80s, officials said Saturday. All but one had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 9,143 tests reported Friday, 4% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 3.1%. The state-set target is less than 8%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 9,191.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,560 – or 7.4%  – have required hospitalization and 830 — or 1.7% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

Two new community outbreaks were confirmed on Friday, both in a government setting. In the past seven days – Sept. 26 through Oct. 2 – 25 community outbreaks were confirmed. The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

The city began reopening its 289 outdoor playgrounds Saturday, joining the county’s 100 playgrounds. Carlsbad opened playgrounds Friday morning.

According to state guidance released Monday, outdoor playgrounds in parks, campgrounds and other publicly accessible locations are allowed to reopen, depending on individual cities and counties. Protocols for safe reopening include social distancing, all people 2 years old and older mandated to wear masks, no eating or drinking allowed in playgrounds and limiting time to 30 minutes while others are present.

Meanwhile, San Diego State University reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases at SDSU to 1,120.

The school is aware of 1,068 confirmed cases at SDSU and 52 probable cases, the university’s Student Health Services reported Saturday.

“None of the COVID-19 cases have been connected with instructional or research spaces since fall instruction began,” officials said, noting that the majority of the cases were “among students living off-campus in San Diego.”

All cases are since Aug. 24, the first day of instruction for fall 2020.

The university announced Wednesday it was extending a pause on in- person courses through Oct. 12. Effective that day, a limited number of courses will resume in-person. Most of those courses are upper-division or graduate level, and have been “determined by faculty and academic leaders to be essential to student degree completion, licensure, and career preparation,” university officials said in a statement.

Approximately 2,100 students will be enrolled in an in-person course. Prior to the in-person pause, 6,200 students were enrolled in an in-person course.

Paul Gothold, San Diego County’s superintendent of schools, on Wednesday said schedules for the county’s many districts and charter schools have not been drafted yet, but they’re coming.

The county has expanded its total testing sites to 41 locations, and school staff, including teachers, cafeteria workers, janitors and bus drivers, can be tested for free at any one of those sites. A rotating testing program with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection was in the works for schools in the county’s rural areas.

There are no state testing requirements for children, but all school staff who interact with children must be tested every two months. If schools were to open before San Diego County headed to a more restrictive tier in the state’s monitoring system, they would not be affected. However, if a move to a different tier happened before schools opened for in-person learning, it would change the game plan, County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said.

If parents want to test their children for the illness, they have options, including Rady Children’s Hospital, through Kaiser Permanente or through the 41 sites the county manages. Children as young as 6 months can be tested at the county-run sites.

On Tuesday, the county again avoided being pushed into the “purple” tier, the most restrictive in the state’s four-tier reopening plan. The county will remain in the red tier for COVID-19 cases, with a state-adjusted case rate of 6.7 per 100,000 residents. The county’s testing positivity percentage is 3.5%.

The California Department of Public Health will issue its next report on county case rates on Tuesday.

–City News Service