san diego county administration building
The San Diego County administration building / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran

Voice of San Diego, along with KPBS and the San Diego Union-Tribune, have been fighting the county for data detailing where outbreaks of COVID-19 were happening. Other places, like Los Angeles, provide this kind of info — where and when people get infected with the coronavirus. But that’s not the case in San Diego.

As it stood in the beginning of the week, we’d lost our case against the county and appealed it, hoping we’d eventually see the numbers to help tell the story of what’s happened this year.

But then KPBS got the epic scoop.

County data secured by investigative reporters Katy Stegall and Claire Trageser show the locations where outbreaks happened. Stegall and Trageser joined VOSD host Scott Lewis on the podcast this week to talk about what they found, how to read the data and important points to keep in mind when absorbing it all.

Here are a couple of findings to get you started before the interview:

  • Around 20 percent of outbreaks occurred in restaurants. Some – like Olive Garden and the Cheesecake Factory – experienced multiple outbreaks.
  • Big box stores like Target and Wal-Mart also accounted for a significant chunk of the outbreaks.
  • More than 600 individual COVID cases were also linked to casinos.

Plus, a super important caveat: An “outbreak” is not necessarily an outbreak. In this case, it means at least three people who had COVID visited a certain place over a 14-day period. So that means, particularly in places like the big box stores, there may have been no transmission of COVID in the stores. What it may mean instead is that many, many people came through the doors of those stores and some of them happened to have COVID.

Listen Now

Apple | Google | Spotify

Nate John is the digital manager at Voice of San Diego. He oversees Voice's website, newsletters, podcasts and product team. You can reach him at

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.