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San Diego County reports 173 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths

 

Last updated 4/28/2020 at 4:49pm



SAN DIEGO (CNS) - County health officials reported 173 new cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths today, raising the county totals to 3,314 cases and 118 deaths.

The 173 cases are the second-highest reported since the pandemic began, but could correspond with the significant increase in daily test results, officials said. More than 2,500 tests results were reported, the third highest since San Diego's first case of the novel coronavirus.

The percentage of positive tests Tuesday was around 7%, slightly higher than the county's rolling average of nearly 6.5%, according to San Diego County Public Health.

The five deaths were two women, in their mid-50s and mid-80s, and three men -- one in his early 70s and two in their late 80s. All had underlying health conditions according to Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer.

Since the beginning of the public health crisis, 713 people have been hospitalized as a result of COVID-19 and 238 have been sent to intensive care. These represent 22.1% and 7.2% of all positive cases, respectively. The rate of mortality from the illness in the county is 3.6%.

The county continues to move forward on its plan to require facial coverings in public by Friday, and agencies are rushing to adapt. The

Metropolitan Transit System announced Tuesday it would require all passengers and employees to wear facial coverings while in vehicles or at transit centers or bus stops.

"Our number one priority is the safety of our passengers and frontline employees. Face coverings are a proven approach to slowing the spread of coronavirus,'' said Paul Jablonski, MTS chief executive officer. "We want to ensure we are doing everything we can to offer safe, essential trips in a sanitized environment. Face coverings are another step in that direction.''

Dr. Nick Yphantides, the county's chief medical officer, backed up that point, displaying data at a Tuesday media briefing that suggests even a homemade cotton mask can dramatically reduce the amount of water droplets and aerosolized drops from the respiratory system of a person positive for COVID-19. He then implored the public to continue to wear facial coverings and prepare for Friday's public health order.

"Folks, it's not that big of a deal,'' he said. "If it had a chance of helping prevent the spread of this illness, I'd wear a dirty sock on my

face.''

At the San Diego Convention Center, the two people sheltering there who tested positive for COVID-19 have been removed to public health rooms. County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said 767 people at the center have been tested for COVID-19, with 664 returning negative, 17 returning indeterminate and 104 pending. Of those tested, 530 are residents and 237 are staff.

Testing began 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.

Beaches in San Diego, Oceanside, Encinitas, Coronado and Imperial Beach reopened for recreation activities on Monday, but numerous beaches in San Diego County remain closed.

The sandy stretches in those respective cities are open for surfers, swimmers, kayakers and paddleboarders in the ocean, as well as runners and walkers on the sand. Imperial Beach has allowed access to the beach, but not the ocean, which is too polluted to allow people in the water because of an ongoing issue with runoff from the Tijuana River.

But group gatherings, parking in lots and lying down on the beach are not allowed. Those activities could be lifted in Phase 2 of reopening plans.

Beaches in Carlsbad, Del Mar and Solana Beach remain closed. Solana Beach city officials announced Sunday that they are working to reopen city beaches the week of May 4.

Gov. Gavin Newsom lashed out on Monday at large crowds that gathered over the weekend in Orange County, notably Newport Beach. He said social-distancing mandates need to be followed to continue slowing the spread of the virus.

Newport Beach officials were holding a special meeting Tuesday to consider closing the city's beaches for the next three weekends.

Meanwhile, Supervisor Greg Cox said San Diego County and the federal government were looking at the best way to provide mutual virus-related aid to northern Mexico. County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence last week and said she received a response indicating assistance was on the way, Cox said. Further details have not been revealed.

 

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