As SD County coronavirus cases rise to 55, officials order bars, schools to close
Last updated 3/19/2020 at 7:47pm
County of San Diego
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - In a sweeping public health order, San Diego County officials today banned gatherings larger than 50 people, closed all bars and restricted restaurants to take-out and drive-through services only, among other orders and recommendations.
The orders came as the number of COVID-19 cases in the county rose by 22 cases overnight to a total of 55 positive cases among residents and non-residents alike.
"Everything we have developed follows guidelines from the CDC, California Public Health and our own local health experts,'' County Supervisor Greg Cox said. "We are trying to do the most good for the most people."
At midnight, the following orders will go into effect:
-- All public and private gatherings of 50 or more people are legally prohibited, and all nonessential gatherings of any size are strongly discouraged.
-- All bars, adult entertainment businesses and any business which serves alcohol and not food are to close.
-- All restaurants must prohibit dine-in service and restrict services to drive-through, take-out and delivery. Restaurants and employees are urged to follow social distancing guidelines during this time.
-- Businesses that require a doctor's note for a leave of absence must suspend those policies until the public health crisis is over.
-- All public schools must cancel all classes, gatherings and events.
-- Nonessential personnel are prohibited from entering hospitals and long-term care facilities, and all essential personnel displaying symptoms of COVID-19 are prohibited.
-- Hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 must report such cases immediately to county health officials.
-- All people traveling to San Diego County from China, Iran, South Korea, Italy or any other country at extreme contagion risk must self-quarantine in their homes for 14 days, regardless if they show symptoms or not.
-- All people showing symptoms of COVID-19 must self isolate in their homes.
Additionally, county health officials strongly urged people over the age of 65, with underlying medical conditions or a suppressed immune system to self-isolate. Hospitals were urged to delay elective procedures.
More than 180,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported around the world with more than 7,000 deaths. The United States has seen nearly 4,200 cases and 71 deaths so far.
"This virus does not discriminate," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. "Cases range in age from the early 20s to late 80s. We know that more cases will occur. We know that deaths will occur."
Eric McDonald, county medical director of epidemiology and immunization, stressed that testing is improving but the county health
infrastructure needs the public's assistance.
"Only those who need medical attention need testing," he said. "If you have no symptoms, you don't need testing. If you have mild symptoms, you don't need testing. Just self-isolate at home."
The county's public health lab can process 120 tests a day. McDonald said he hoped over the next week or two that number would increase to a daily 500 ceiling.
The county has secured 237 motel rooms for people without homes or who cannot return to homes to isolate should they show symptoms. County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county would attempt to reach more than
2,000 rooms for unsheltered people.
Cox said the county had placed more than 180 handwashing stations around the county and would install another 58 by the end of the day.
Encinitas Union School District reported late Sunday that a person at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School has tested presumptive positive for coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. The district has not yet said whether the infected person was a student, teacher or school employee. It was not immediately clear if that person was included in the 39 cases confirmed by county officials on Sunday.
A coalition including Fletcher, San Diego Gas & Electric, The San Diego Foundation, United Way of San Diego and the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council announced the creation of a fund to help nonprofit organizations provide food and financial assistance to people impacted by the global pandemic. The San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund launched with
$1.3 million in funding, meant for nonprofits helping with food insecurities, rent and utility assistance and income replacement.
The Navy added safety measures in the San Diego metro area after a sailor from Naval Base San Diego tested "presumptive positive'' for the coronavirus. The sailor is quarantined at home and the positive test result is pending confirmation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the Navy, people the sailor identified having close contact with have been notified and are in home isolation.
Another sailor - this one aboard the USS Boxer - tested "presumptive positive" for the virus and is now in isolation at his or her
off-base residence, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The case is the first among ship-based U.S. Navy sailors.
"Navy Region Southwest increased health protection conditions at all metro installations," said Brian O'Rourke, a media officer with the U.S. Navy. "Navy Region Southwest is working closely with our partners in state and local public health departments, and following all guidance from the Department of Defense, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect Navy
personnel and visitors to our installations."
O'Rourke said the following measures will be taken in San Diego:
-- Commanders will continue no-touch ID scanning at all entry control
points. Personnel are required to present both sides of the ID/credential for
screening by a guard.
-- Visitor Control Center personnel will use the health questionnaire
to screen people seeking access to installations.
-- Installations with air terminals in the San Diego area will begin
screening using questionnaires of everyone embarking or disembarking flights.
-- Installations will provide cleaning products and hand sanitizers
for high-traffic facilities and common areas on base.
-- Navy commanders should assess the risk of holding any ship tours,
large events or mass gatherings.
Two Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar tested positive for the virus, one on Friday and another on Saturday, leading to new health protections on the base.
Effective immediately, drivers entering the gate will hold up ID so guards do not have to touch them. Fitness facilities will have modified hours to increase cleaning throughout the day. Chapel services and base tours are canceled until further notice.
In addition, buffet-style service in meal halls will be suspended, employees eligible for tele-work are required to do so, the VITA tax center will close, the legal assistance center will be restricted to active-duty service members and the administrative photography studio will operate by appointment only and be limited to Promotion Board and command photography until further notice.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidelines Sunday, recommending that gathering of 50 people or more in the U.S. be canceled or postponed for at least eight weeks because of coronavirus.
Gov. Gavin Newsom also said Sunday that Californians over the age of 65 should isolate themselves from others and bars and pubs should close their doors in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.
UC San Diego Health said on Saturday that two health care workers tested positive for COVID-19.
A University of San Diego graduate student living off campus and a San Diego State University student tested positive Friday.
On Friday evening, it was announced that a parent of children who attend the San Diego Jewish Academy in Carmel Valley tested positive for coronavirus, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The academy notified parents of the positive test Friday evening by email, the paper said.
And on Saturday, Chula Vista City Councilman Steve Padilla announced on Twitter that he has tested positive for the virus. He said he is in isolation at home and is "healthy, strong and safe."
City officials in Chula Vista announced Sunday that all city libraries and recreation centers will be closed until April 5. The closure includes the cancellations of any events, youth sports and adults sports held at local parks and fields.
The National City Police Department also announced Sunday that several city facilities will be closed temporarily. They include the Camacho Recreation Center, Casa de Salud, El Toyon Recreation Center, Kimball Senior Center, National City Public Library and the pool.
The Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park announced Saturday that it will be closed beginning today through the end of the month.
The Senior Nutrition center will begin delivering home meals and allowing for to-go meals, but will not be serving seated meals to the public onsite.