Family Health Centers of San Diego opened a coronavirus testing center at the Convention Center, where the city is temporarily housing homeless residents. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Local and state leaders agree: Widespread testing is the most important factor in re-opening society.

And yet, San Diego hospitals are testing far below their current daily capacity

When we first started tracking testing capacity on March 22, hospitals were only testing at roughly 28 percent of their capacity. This dashboard will provide a running analysis of whether officials are finding ways to maximize that capacity.

San Diego County’s public health department has a role in managing the crisis. After we first reported on the number of tests declining, formed a task force to figure out how to quickly ramp up testing.

This dashboard will track their progress.



If you can’t see the graph above, view the graph here.

Exactly how many tests per day does San Diego need to begin to safely end its lockdown? Gov. Gavin Newsom has suggested that 152 tests per 100,000 residents per day could be the magic number.

For San Diego County’s roughly 3.4 million residents (according to a 2019 census estimate) that translates to about 5,074 tests per day.



If you can’t see the chart above, view the chart here.

On March 22, we verified that local hospitals and labs can do at least 4,000 tests per day, though the actual number could be far higher. As we verify more tests, we’ll update our tracker.

Before San Diego can reopen, officials have said we’ll need to meet several criteria. For instance, the number of new coronavirus hospitalizations will have to decline for 14 days in a row. That hasn’t happened yet. But if we aren’t up and running at full testing capacity when it does, we won’t be able to safely come out of lockdown.

Related Video: Meet the Pandemic Decision-Makers

Will Huntsberry

Will Huntsberry is a senior investigative reporter at Voice of San Diego. He can be reached by email or phone at

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