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Indoor operations to halt Wednesday at various San Diego County businesses

San Diego County reported 539 new COVID-19 cases and 14 additional deaths Tuesday, raising the region's totals to 20,887 cases and 436 deaths.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego County reported 539 new COVID-19 cases and 14 additional deaths Tuesday, as indoor operations at various businesses throughout the county prepared to close at midnight.

The new data raise the region's totals to 20,887 cases and 436 deaths. Of the 7,246 tests reported Tuesday, 7% returned positive, slightly above the county's rolling 14-day positive test average of 6.2%.

Of the 14 deaths, six were women and eight men. They died between July 2 and July 13 and ranged in age from mid-40s to late 80s. All but one had underlying medical conditions.

Three new community outbreaks were reported Tuesday, bringing the weekly total to 15 -- still well above the county's metric of no more than seven in a one-week span. The new outbreaks were reported in a restaurant/bar, place of worship and a private residence.

A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households.

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Following Gov. Gavin Newsom's updated health order Monday, all indoor operations will halt at midnight Tuesday in gyms, houses of worship, non- critical office businesses, hair salons and barber shops, indoor malls and personal care services, such as massage businesses and tattoo parlors.

Of the total positive cases, 2,073 or 9.9% have been hospitalized and 541 or 2.6% of cases have been admitted to an intensive care unit.

About 137 of every 100,000 San Diegans are testing positive for the illness, well above the state's criterion of 100 per 100,000. Total COVID-19 hospitalizations have inched up over the last several weeks and now sit at 467,159, of which 159 are in intensive care units.

Additionally, the smoke from the fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego could cause potential health problems for those most susceptible to COVID-19, including the elderly and those with heart or lung conditions, health officials said. Supervisor Nathan Fletcher asked residents who smell smoke or experience eye irritation to remain indoors with doors and windows closed and to avoid strenuous exercise.

Nick Macchione, San Diego County's director of the Health and Human Services Agency, offered more bad news Monday when he reported the county's COVID-19 testing capacity was stretched to its limit. Local biotechnology company Helix did announce a partnership with the county to provide 2,000 tests a day with a 24-hour turnaround for the foreseeable future, but supplies both locally and nationally remain critically low.

"I'll be clear and frank, it's not a testing windfall," Macchione said of the partnership.

Although the county has averaged more than 8,000 tests per day over the last week, a shortage in testing supplies has stretched supply lines to the limit, County Supervisor Greg Cox said Monday.

Before the partnership with Helix, Macchione said the county was seriously considering doing what some other jurisdictions in the country have done and close state- or county-run testing sites to better consolidate resources. For now, the county can keep all testing sites open and honor all existing appointments for tests, but both Macchione and San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten explained that officials would shift testing priorities back to those showing symptoms and those most at risk for the illness -- including the elderly, first responders and those with underlying health conditions.

"The pandemic is not over," Wooten reminded county residents last week. "The disease is still widespread in our community, as evidenced by the rising cases."

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