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COVID-19 cases increase to 417, several deaths reported in county


Last updated 3/28/2020 at 10:36am

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego County health officials reported 76 new COVID-19 cases -- the largest day-over-day increase to date, along with two deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 417 and the death toll to five.

The virus claimed the lives of a man in his mid-50s and a man in his early 80s, officials said Friday, noting the daily increase in cases between Thursday and Friday was the county's largest to date.

Of the positive-testing individuals, 85 have been hospitalized, with 38 of those patients listed as critical.

A 25-year-old pharmacy technician and resident of San Diego County died of the illness in the Riverside County community of La Quinta on Wednesday, according to that county's public health officer, but his death was not included in the San Diego County data.

San Diego County health officials also confirmed the death of one of the passengers of the Grand Princess cruise ship, who was among those who had been placed under federal quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. His death was also not included in the county figures.

Dr. Eric McDonald, the county's medical director of epidemiology, said the 86-year-old man was one of a handful of patients from the cruise ship remaining in the county. The majority were sent home after their two-week quarantine.

Scripps Health CEO Chris Van Gorder issued a plea for San Diegans to be more diligent when it comes to stay-at-home orders.

"People must take social distancing more seriously. The shelter in place mandate must be stricter,'' he said. "I realize that may mean a more significant effect on our economy, but as a healthcare provider, my concern is about the health and well-being of my doctors, nurses and support staff, as well as that of my own family. And yours.

"Our own projections show Scripps overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients in a matter of weeks if we don't take stronger action,'' Van Gorder said. "With 30% success in social distancing we will flatten the curve, but by June we could have up to 8,000 concurrent patients requiring care just at Scripps for our 1,200 beds. Without any social distancing or other mitigation efforts, we are projecting the need to care for over 12,000 patients concurrently at the peak, far exceeding our 1,200 beds.''

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher told reporters he's in discussions about the possibility of acquiring more motel rooms or even dormitories at UC San Diego to help isolate people who test positive or show coronavirus symptoms, or those who are not under investigation for the illness but have no other place to shelter.

The county currently has 1,810 rooms set aside for that purpose, with just 26 people using them so far. Another 216 rooms are being managed by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, with 154 previously-unsheltered people using the rooms.

Meanwhile, the city of San Diego is considering slashing funding for all but the most essential city services as the number of countywide COVID-19 cases continues to rise.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Thursday that the city was facing a financial crisis, projecting that $109 million in tax revenue has been lost as a result of the economic slowdown caused by the global pandemic.

According to city data, San Diego has missed out on $83 million in hotel occupancy taxes and $26 million in sales tax, the city's third- and second-highest revenue generators. Property tax brings in the most money for the city, but less is known about that data at this time. Faulconer said the lost money represents the yearly budget of the city's entire parks and recreation department.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department announced Thursday that a nurse at the Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility in Santee tested positive for COVID-19 and nine employees of the detention facility are self-quarantining.

San Diego city officials also announced Thursday that a San Diego lifeguard has tested positive for COVID-19.

Two more sailors aboard San Diego-based ships tested positive for the coronavirus, Navy officials reported Thursday.

Seventeen additional positive diagnoses were revealed Wednesday among sailors and Navy employees, including a civilian who had been working at the Naval Air Station North Island Child Development Center. The employee began feeling ill two weeks ago and has been absent from work since then, officials said.

The latest cases brings the total number of local military testing positive for coronavirus to 35, including 20 sailors on Navy ships and 14 shore-based sailors. Three Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and one marine at Camp Pendleton have also tested positive for the virus.


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