In-Depth: San Diego nears 'high' COVID tier as major events approach

Comic con special edition
Posted at 6:51 PM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 22:39:06-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Just a few dozen more COVID hospitalizations in San Diego’s 7-day rolling average would push the county into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s high community transmission category.

Under federal guidelines, the new threshold would trigger recommendations for universal indoor masking. A county spokesperson said San Diego will follow state guidelines, which do not offer specific metrics for implementing mask recommendations or mandates.

“We can’t speculate on whether San Diego County will turn red, although you can see by the CDC’s map that most of California is now red,” said County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency spokeswoman Sarah Sweeney.

San Diego is hovering near the high-risk category at a time when the region is preparing to welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors for several signature events. In the next two weeks, opening day at the Del Mar racetrack will host about 22,000 people, Comic-Con will host more than 100,000 people inside the Convention enter, and San Diego Pride could attract 300,000.

“I would expect that there would be a significant amount of infections. We will have people coming from everywhere. Among them will be infectious people,” said Dr. M.O. “Andi” Andreae, an aerosols researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The latest CDC data on hospital admissions over the last 7 days shows San Diego had nearly 9 admissions per 100,000 residents. If the county hit 10, it would put San Diego in the high-risk category. Reaching that threshold, which is calculated as a rolling 7-day average, would take about 35 additional hospital admissions on top of the 296 San Diego registered last week.

County leaders say they are strongly recommending masks in crowded spaces during this COVID surge.

Dr. Andreae was part of a team last year that showed surgical masks and N95s have a surprising amount of protection for the wearer.

“If you have a surgical mask, the most common thing that's currently seen, then you will have about a 50 percent reduced chance of getting infected. So it will cut your risk in half. If you wear one of these N95 masks, then you cut your risk by about 90 percent,” he said.