Village News - Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

By Will Fritz
Staff Writer 

San Diego County nears 250 coronavirus deaths

Fallbrook still has one of the lowest case totals, and now ranks second in county

 

Last updated 5/28/2020 at 7:07am



The COVID-19 death toll in San Diego County is nearing the 250 mark as statewide stay-at-home orders begin to loosen.

County health officials reported 96 cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths Monday, May 25, bringing the county's total to 6,797 cases and 249 deaths.

So far, 1,244 cases have required hospitalization and 370 have required intensive care, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported.

Of the 3,700 tests reported to the county Sunday, May 24; 96 were positive cases.

The 14-day rolling average of new positive cases among county residents is 3.2%.

There remained a total of 22 reported coronavirus cases in Fallbrook, the same as a week ago, and six in Bonsall, also the same as last week, as of press time Tuesday.

Fallbrook is still one of the areas with the lowest number of coronavirus infections per 100,000, with the 92028 ZIP code – which also covers Rainbow and De Luz – reporting 45.6 coronavirus cases per 100,000. Fallbrook is back in second place for the lowest number of infections, behind only Scripps Ranch, with ZIP codes for Ocean Beach, Alpine and Naval Base San Diego having inched above Fallbrook.

The county did not estimate a per capita infection rate for Bonsall, as its number of cases was too small.

In the meantime, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued guidance Monday to churches and other houses of worship in California on how they can safely reopen amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the guidelines, places of worship must limit attendance to 25% of building capacity or 100 attendees, whichever is lower. This limitation will be in effect for the first 21 days of each county public health department's approval of religious services within their jurisdictions, after which the California Department of Public Health will review the limits.

They must also arrange for social distancing of at least 6 feet between people, establish and implement a COVID-19 prevention plan for every location, train staff and regularly evaluate workplaces for compliance.

Churches and other houses of worship were ordered closed to the public on March 19. Since then, many have adjusted by holding virtual services, while a few have recently resumed in-person services in violation of the order.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released “interim guidance” Friday for houses of worship, while continuing to warn that “gatherings present a risk for increasing the spread of COVID-19 during this public health emergency.”

The CDC guidance includes standard recommendations such as frequent hand-washing, encouraging face coverings for staff and congregants, frequent cleaning of surfaces and promotion of social distancing through physical set-up and limited attendance.

More than 1,200 pastors and clergy from across California sent the governor a letter last week saying they plan to resume in-person services May 31, regardless of state restrictions.

Some churches and faith leaders have also sued the state, seeking to compel the reopening of houses of worship, and the U.S. Department of Justice recently sent a letter to the state warning that restrictions on such facilities could be a violation of federal law.

In San Diego County, some 1.3 million Roman Catholics are being invited to attend in-person Masses as early June 8, church officials said.

Parishes may adopt different logistics, such as indoors, outdoors or a hybrid.

“After a great deal of discussion, we concluded that the first weekend for the public celebration of the Eucharist in our parishes should be the feast of Corpus Christi, June 14,” Bishop Robert McElroy said in a letter posted Saturday on Facebook. “This seems a beautifully symbolic and joyful feast in which to bring together anew our Eucharistic communities.”

But McElroy said a weekday opening has been suggested.

“Thus, if a pastor wishes to initiate daily Mass from Monday, June 8, that will be permitted,” he wrote in the two-page letter.

Parishioners are not required to attend in-person Masses. McElroy said he has removed the obligation “for the foreseeable future,'' so people can

opt to worship online.

“All of us must urge sick or especially vulnerable members of our communities to refrain from coming to Mass, and we must continue the wonderful online Masses that so many of you have been providing for your people in these days,” he said.

In his letter, Bishop McElroy said he spoke at length Friday with Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County's public health director, “and received support for our plan to reopen our parishes in a manner that will vigorously safeguard public health.”

In the meantime, Barona Resort and Casino also announced plans to reopen on Wednesday.

Other tribal casinos began reopening their doors last week, despite disapproval from county officials, including nearby Pala Casino Spa Resort, which reopened May 22. Tribal casinos are on federally regulated land, outside the county's jurisdiction.

North County’s Pauma Casino, however, is bucking the trend of local casinos reopening by deciding to remain shut indefinitely. The casino has been closed since March 15.

"It is very important to the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians and Casino

Pauma leadership that we continue to demonstrate that `Where People Come First' is more than a slogan,'' Jim Thomason, general manager of Casino Pauma, said earlier this month.

The California Department of Public Health also announced Monday the statewide reopening of in-store retail shopping, a major step in California's emergence from shutdown orders issued in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The retail guidance for in-person shopping that is already in place for certain counties, including San Diego County, now applies statewide, officials said.

Hair salons and barbershops may also open now in San Diego County and other counties that have been allowed to proceed through Phase 2 of the governor’s reopening plan. Nail salons are expected to be allowed to reopen soon as well, according to an announcement from Supervisor Jim Desmond’s office.

City News Service contributed to this report.

 

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