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Coronavirus: Many SD County beaches to reopen, protesters rally in Pacific Beach

 

Last updated 4/26/2020 at 10:55pm

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego residents waited patiently for Monday's opening of some beaches -- with restrictions -- as the city said two homeless people at the Convention Center shelter tested positive for the coronavirus, protesters rallied in Pacific Beach, and the county announced 100 more cases.

Because the county surprised so many beach cities on Friday with the sudden lifting of a ban on ocean activity, not all beaches will be opening Monday. Beaches in Carlsbad, Del Mar and Solana Beach will not be open.

Officials in those cities will consider opening at a later date.

Encinitas City Council members voted 3-2 late Sunday on whether to open Moonlight Beach Monday.

But Ocean Beach, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach have plans in place to open at sunrise on Monday to allow surfers, swimmers, kayakers and paddleboarders in the ocean, and runners and walkers on the sand. But group gatherings, parking in lots and lying down on the beach are not allowed. Those activities could be lifted in Phase 2. Imperial Beach will allow access to the sandy beach, but not the ocean, which is still too polluted to allow people in the water. If further testing indicates the water is OK to swim and surf in, city officials will open up the ocean.

The total number of cases among San Diego County residents is now at 3,043, the county reported Sunday. The total number of deaths in the county remained at 111. The number of people requiring hospitalization is 696, or 22.9% of cases, and the number of cases placed in intensive care is 227, or 7.5% of all cases.

Of 1,297 tests reported to the county Saturday, 8% were positive.

Meanwhile, protesters gathered near a Pacific Beach lifeguard station Sunday to protest stay-at home orders and beach closures. About 100 people rallied with U.S. flags and signs next to the PB Shore Club at 4343 Ocean Blvd., with most not following social-distancing orders or wearing facial coverings.

Protesters carried signs such as "COVID is a LIE'' and "PB IS OPEN.'' The protest lasted about 30 minutes, with San Diego police officers

looking on, and the crowd leaving the area and then congregating at the corner of Mission Boulevard and Grand Avenue.

Elsewhere, at the downtown at the San Diego Convention Center, two homeless people sheltering there tested positive for the coronavirus, city officials said.

One patient was moved to a motel room and the other refused quarantine and left, according to Ashley Bailey of the city of San Diego. The second person was later located and moved to a hotel room for isolation.

The two people who tested positive are the only positive tests to date after more than 660 tests have been given to shelter residents, staff and volunteers, Bailey said.

"Public health investigators are working with shelter staff to determine if there are any significant exposures at the convention center that call for re-testing or evaluation,'' Bailey said. "Persons in isolation will be kept off-site until it is deemed safe for them to return to the shelter or be released to a permanent housing solution based on CDC guidelines.''

Testing began on April 16 at the emergency homeless shelter in the convention center as part of a proactive effort to detect anyone who may have COVID-19 but has not shown symptoms, Bailey said.

"This proactive testing helped staff identify cases that otherwise could have been missed, and protect the health of all working and taking up shelter here,'' San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. "Appropriate action was taken because we were prepared for the real possibility that individuals who may not feel or appear ill can still have COVID-19.''

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said a testing protocol was put in place to provide a high level of protection to anyone who tests positive.

"While these two cases represent a small percentage of the total tests conducted, it reinforces the need to provide testing, tracing and

treatment. The protocol to manage these situations was well thought out and is being properly followed.''

In Encinitas Saturday, three people were arrested and cited during a rally at Moonlight Beach, organized to protest beach closures and stay-at-home orders.

The three were cited for violating the stay-at-home order and congregating on a closed beach, according to Lt. Amber Baggs of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

"Several protesters walked onto the beach and sat as deputies began speaking to them regarding the county public health order,'' Baggs said. "The people were given multiple opportunities to comply with the state and county orders. Three attendees refused and were arrested.''

Meanwhile, at a news conference Saturday morning at a lifeguard tower in South Mission Beach, Faulconer, Police Chief David Nisleit and San Diego Lifeguard Chief James Gartland went over the rules regarding the lifting of some beach restrictions Monday.

"In Phase 1, we get to run, we get to swim, we get to walk on the beach and you get to fish,'' Gartland said. "You come to the beach, you get your exercise, then you go back and follow the stay-at-home order.''

Gartland said there is no recreational boating allowed at this time, but it would be part of the Phase 2 plan.

Nisleit asked that beachgoers to follow social-distancing rules.

"What I need is cooperation,'' Nisleit said. "So you will see law enforcement, you'll see our beach team out here to enforce physical distancing, face coverings.

"The more we do this, the more we can go on to Phase 2,'' Nisleit said. "No sitting on the beach and no loitering on the beach. For those that want to refuse, they will be cited. We don't want to do that, but we need people to adhere to the rules. It allows us to get to Phase 2 and beyond. The better cooperation, the sooner we do that.''

Health officials announced Friday that starting May 1, people within six feet of a non-household member must wear a facial covering.

The order follows Chula Vista and National City requiring facial coverings.

"But we're encouraging it immediately,'' said Fletcher.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced Friday that vehicle SENTRI lanes at the Otay Mesa passenger port of entry will close two hours earlier starting today as result of decreased traffic volume.

SENTRI is the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection that provides expedited border processing of pre-approved travelers considered low-risk. New operating hours for SENTRI vehicle lanes will be from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

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