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Updated 8 p.m. with newest numbers

By Miriam Raftery

March 21, 2020 (San Diego) – As of today, San Diego County has 159 confirmed cases of COVID-19, though there may be many times that amount since testing availability is still limited.  The County has released a city-by-city breakdown . Some health experts believe the true number of cases could be 10 times higher,  due to lack of tests available even for many patients with symptoms.

The city of San Diego has by far the most, with 87 confirmed cases.  Among East County residents, confirmed cases include 2 in El Cajon, 1 in Santee, and 2 in Ramona. News reports indicated another case involved a worker at a Spring Valley retirement home, who did not live locally.  Other inland communities also have cases: 1 in Poway and 2 in Esocndido.

The city listings are based on where the patients live; this does not account for potential exposure through where these individuals may have worked, attended school, or participated in other activities.

County Public Health Office Dr. Wilma Wooten reminds the public to obey the Governor’s stay-at-home order “if you do not need to go out for an essential reason.”

The Governor has clarified that exercising and walking dogs are considered essential, provided people maintain six feet of social distancing with non-family members. You can also go out to get food or medicine, for medical appointments, or to go to work if your job is deemed “essential” such as police, fire, medical, transit, banking, grocery stores, restaurants or other food outlets with takeout or delivery, laundry services, auto repairs, media, construction/home building or other fields listed by the Dept. of Homeland Security as “critical infrastructure sectors.”

Statewide there are 1,300 confirmed cases and 24 deaths. To date, no one in San Diego County has died of the virus.

Dr. Wooten says about 80% of those ill with the new coronavirus will recover; those with mild to moderate symptoms are advised to isolate themselves at home.  Testing is reserved for those with severe symptoms and who are hospitalized, due to the federal government’s failure to provide enough testing kits locally.  If you experience respiratory distress (trouble breathing) especially with cough and/or fever, call your medical professional immediately.

If you must go out, avoid groups of 10 or more and stay at least six feet apart. Stores and businesses are also required to maintain six feet between workers and customers.

Of the  local cases, 135 were San Diego County residents and 13 were non-residents, including 11 who were in federal quarantine. Cases under federal quarantine also increased to 11, up by three from Thursday.

Most of the cases were younger patients.  The newest breakdown is not yet available but as of Friday, when there were 131 cases confirmed, the  majority were between 20 and 49. Nationwide, while the most fatalities are in patients over 65, there have been high rates of hospitaization among younger people as well.

People can help limit the spread of infection, by taking these steps:

  • Wash your hands often to help protect you from germs.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if soap and water are not available. It should contain at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home and keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then wash your hands.
  • Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

Get COVID-19 Info Via Text

County residents can now receive information about the novel coronavirus via text thanks to the County COVID-19 public information text message alert system. The system allows County health officials to send real-time information about COVID-19 in the region. To sign up to receive the messages, text COSD COVID19 to 468-311. The system was set up to let County public health officials issue information and instructions on changes related to COVID-19 in the region.

If you have individual questions, please talk to your health care provider. For community resources, please call 2-1-1 San Diego or visit 211sandiego.org or the County’s Coronavirus Disease webpage.


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re: "the true number of cases could be 10 times higher"

The US is far late on testing despite President Trump's promises. Home kits are now being provided. Will they work? Meanwhile the virus is spreading, count on that. For detailed information on the whole ugly affair there's the New Yorker article with: What Went Wrong with Coronavirus Testing in the U.S. here