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By Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association 

Photo:  Dr. Wilma Wooten speaks at Friday’s press conference. Image from livestream

October 16, 2020 (San Diego) - San Diego County public health officials warned Friday that coronavirus infections are creeping up and the county could enter the widespread, or purple, tier in state rankings.

“Today we are here to sound the alarm,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, at an unscheduled press conference. “We are hovering just below 400 cases a day. We need those numbers to be consistently lower.”

Wooten said the high number of community outbreaks — 47 over the past week — is also “a clear indication that COVID-19 is everywhere.”

The county has been able to remain in the red tier because of an adjustment for extensive testing. But Wooten released a chart showing that this adjustment may not be enough to offset a higher infection rate.

Photo, right:  Chart shows the trend in adjusted and unadjusted case rates for San Diego County. Image from livestream

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said that if the case rate does go above the threshold in the next California Department of Public Health ranking on Tuesday, the county would still have another week to potentially bring it down to stay out of the higher tier.

He warned that moving into the purple tier would require the county to reimpose restrictions on indoor operations, something he said would especially hurt smaller businesses.

“Right now we’re fighting to stay where we are,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher and Wooten urged residents to wear face masks in public, avoid gatherings and work from home. They said doing so over the next week is crucial to keeping the county out of the purple tier.

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