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City beaches from San Diego to Carlsbad closed as COVID-19 cases keep climbing


Last updated 3/24/2020 at 6:06pm

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego County health officials confirmed today the second death of a county resident from COVID-19, a person in their late- 70s.

The individual had "many'' underlying health issues, county Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said.

Additionally, Wooten reported the first two infant cases. No further details on the cases were made available. A full report with all additional cases would be released later Tuesday, she said.

"We are seeing positive tests continue to rise,'' County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said. "And due to increased testing, we should expect that to continue and even to accelerate. The reality is at this point we still don't know how long we will continue on this trajectory.''

Wooten said she and other county health officials believed the crest of cases had not yet passed. On Monday, county data showed 230 cases, an increase of 36 from the day before. She reminded people who are showing symptoms that unless they were extremely ill, to stay at home and avoid going to the hospital to help save hospital beds for an influx of patients.

"81% of those who get COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms,'' Wooten said. She said that if you were exhibiting symptoms, it was safest to self- quarantine if possible, and avoid leaving the home until three days after the last signs of a fever or cough, and at least a week after the initial onset of Symptoms.

Also Tuesday:

-- The County Board of Supervisors passed an eviction moratorium, deferment of health permit fees and authorization of $10 million from the county's reserve management fund to assist with the health crisis;

-- It was announced that the COVID-19 Response Fund, launched last week with $1.3 million, has grown with more than 1,000 donations to $6 million. It provides food assistance and loss-of-wages help.

-- County Sheriff Bill Gore said he was in discussions with Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration to determine if retail gun shops were deemed "essential'' businesses and allowed to remain open. Gore cited an increase in public concerns over security and law enforcement concerns that closing legal businesses would drive the demand for firearms to underground, illegal sales as reasons he was hoping Newsom's office would deem the businesses necessary. Gore encouraged firearm retailers to conduct business by appointment only to reduce in-person contact.

-- The county was preparing for a potential future shortfall of masks for non-healthcare personnel. Rob Sills, San Diego County's assistant medical services administrator, said the county was considering bandanas and woven masks should the county begin running out of supplies in 60 days.

-- Wooten said the county had no plans to rescind any of the public health orders anytime soon. "It's not time to start easing back into business as usual,'' she said.

All city beaches from San Diego to Carlsbad remain closed as officials urge residents to practice social distancing to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer ordered the closure of all city-owned beaches, parks and trails on Monday, and said violators could face fines and jail time. Citing a lack of physical distance among city residents in public spaces over the weekend, Faulconer said the step was not one the city took lightly.

"Things are changing by the day. We have to be flexible, but we have to be firm,'' he said. "This weekend we closed city-owned parking lots at beaches and parks. Now I am calling on the city to close all parks, beaches, boardwalks, bays and trails until further notice.''

The city of Oceanside closed all beach parking lots and public playgrounds on Monday, and the city of Carlsbad closed all beaches, parks and Trails.

Del Mar and Solana Beach also closed their beaches, trails and most parks in those cities on Monday.

Faulconer said that people should still get outside for exercise, but stay in their neighborhoods and maintain physical distance of 6 feet from people who are not part of their household.

"The actions of a few can take the lives of many,'' Faulconer said. ``The time for education has ended. The time for enforcement is here.''

San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said there are two orders that officers can enforce -- the governor's stay-at-home order and a local ordinance pertaining to emergency closures. Both could result in a misdemeanor citation and leave violators facing up to $1,000 in fines, up to six months "confinement'' or both, the chief said.

Faulconer's announcement came not long after San Diego County health officials said that if cities cannot maintain safe social distancing procedures at their parks and beaches, the county will close them to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

"We encourage outdoor exercise as long as people maintain 6 feet of social distancing,'' Wooten said Monday afternoon. "It looks like people are not able to do that.''

The county is amending its previous public health order to include the authority to close beaches and parks if municipalities are unable or unwilling to enforce the 6 feet of social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.

Of the 230 people in the county with positive diagnoses, health officials said 213 are county residents and 17 are not. Men testing positive outnumbered women 145-84.

Of the 37 patients who have been hospitalized, 34 are county residents. Seventeen of those hospitalized were in intensive care units, as was one non-county resident.

The first COVID-19 death of a San Diego resident was reported Sunday by San Diego County Health Department officials. The man, who was in his early 70s, died in Santa Clara County, Wooten said. She said he had recently returned from a trip to Hawaii, but no further information was released. That individual remains the only death from COVID-19 from San Diego County.

A San Diego Fire-Rescue Department firefighter has tested positive for COVID-19, Faulconer announced Monday. And another 29 firefighters and three lifeguards are in quarantine awaiting test results, according to SDFD Chief Colin Stowell.

UC San Diego announced Monday that an unidentified student who has been living in campus housing has tested positive for the coronavirus.

"The student resident has self-isolated while receiving care,'' UCSD officials said in a campus alert. "We are working closely with San Diego County Public Health officials and are following their guidance on notification to individuals with recent close contact.''

Navy officials announced Monday that four staffers at Naval Medical Center San Diego have tested positive for COVID-19 along with one sailor aboard an unnamed San Diego-based ship.

U.S. Pacific Fleet officials announced Sunday that seven sailors who were aboard San Diego-based ships have tested positive for COVID-19. Two sailors tested positive Friday and five more tested positive Saturday, according to a statement released Sunday from U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs office, which said the seven are isolated off ship and restricted in movement

in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

"Personnel who were immediately identified as having close contact with these sailors have been notified, placed in a restriction of movement status at their residences off the ship and are being monitored,'' the statement said. The Navy didn't say which ships the sailors who tested positive were on, but the ships involved are screening all personnel coming aboard and

undergoing deep cleaning with bleach twice a day.

A sailor from Naval Base Coronado reported symptoms of COVID-19 to his supervisor last Tuesday, according to officials from the base. He tested positive on Friday and is now restricted to his residence, receiving medical care, and personnel who had close contact with him were notified and were self-quarantined at their homes.

Three Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar have also tested positive for the virus, leading to new health protections on that base.


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