San Diego County reports single-day coronavirus case record

At Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography on Thursday, children reach into shallow tanks to pet sea creatures.
At Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography on Thursday, children reach into a shallow tank to pet sea creatures. Beginning Saturday, all indoor exhibits will be closed because of new coronavirus restrictions, with only outdoor exhibits and activities open.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

As coronavirus cases continue to surge nationally, San Diego County broke a record this week with its highest single-day number of confirmed cases reported.

On Tuesday, the county health department was notified of 661 new positive cases, but the count was not reported until Thursday because there was no daily report on Veterans Day.

The total bested the previous single-day record of 652 set Aug. 7. Though not a record, Wednesday’s total of 620 reported cases underlined what appears to be a new reality: San Diego County coronavirus transmission has spiked since Halloween.

The advisory encourages residents to avoid nonessential travel. It also asks those arriving from another state or country to quarantine for 14 days.


So far, elevated cases have not overwhelmed hospitals. A survey of local health systems Thursday found none reporting a hospitalization surge large enough to force transfers to other facilities, as happened during the big spike in the summer.

The higher totals come as San Diego County plunges backward into the most-restrictive purple level of the state’s COVID-19 reopening system. In the lowest tier, restaurants, places of worship, movie theaters and other locations will no longer be allowed to operate indoors.

While some organizations, such as the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, worked to set up exhibits outdoors Thursday, others appeared to stand firm on previous statements that they simply will not go along with the state’s forced outdoor migration.

The color-coded system that has caused so much concern and consternation in San Diego County took on a new level of detail Thursday with the release of a new map that shows, by ZIP Code and individual city or unincorporated jurisdiction, the specific tier based on each area’s number of cases per 100,000 residents.

Map of case rates by ZIP Code

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s health officer, announced the maps during a news conference Tuesday, indicating that it will be updated every Thursday using the same seven-day period that the state uses to make tier assignments for every county in the state. This week’s map looks at cases with illness onset dates that fell into the seven-day window from Oct. 25 through Oct. 31.

Friday morning, it became clear that many were taking the map as an indication that some in the county — those in areas not colored purple — will not have to comply with purple tier restrictions. That is not the case, officials warn. The state makes its tier decisions at the county level, meaning that everyone in a purple county is expected to comply, even if their particular ZIP Code or city has a better case rate than the region as a whole.

Sisson writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.