San Diego County COVID-19 Cases Spike to 159, Resources Currently Adequate

San-Diego County Logo
San-Diego County Logo

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – San Diego County’s confirmed coronavirus cases spiked from 131 to 159 between Friday and Saturday, county health officials said.

Of the 159 people in the county with positive diagnoses, health officials said 135 are county residents, 11 are in federal quarantine and 13 are not county residents.

Of the 34 patients who have been hospitalized, 25 are county residents. Twelve of those hospitalized were in intensive care, as was one non-county resident.

The vast majority of San Diego County’s cases — nearly 100 of those who have tested positive — have been under the age of 60. One individual’s age is unknown.

Meanwhile, San Diego County officials have said the availability of respirators and the capacity of Intensive Care Unit beds in the county’s fight against the coronavirus has improved.

Dr. Nicholas Yphantides, the county’s chief medical officer, said that when he looked at some of the data Saturday morning he saw “something pretty remarkable.”

“The availability of ICU beds and the number of respirators that are available has actually grown,” Yphantides said.

The doctor said there were many technological innovations going on at local hospitals, such as tele-consultations and call-in nurses.

He also wanted to remind the public that ventilators do not run themselves.

“We are very mindful of our most precious commodity, and that is our health care workers,” Yphantides said. At a recent town hall forum, he reminded people that doctors and nurses are human, too,

“We are really in the eye of the storm right now,” the chief medical officer said. “The hope is that this Category 5 storm can be lessened and become more manageable.”

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said he wanted to encourage people to rely on trusted sources of information about the health crisis.

The health department will hold another coronavirus briefing today, which will include San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Fletcher.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide “stay-at-home” order Thursday night, advising residents not to leave their homes except for essential needs.

Essential services will remain open, including: gas stations, pharmacies, banks, laundromats, and places to obtain food, including grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants.

Any other public event or gathering is considered non-essential and is banned under the order until further notice.

“The message is very clear,” County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. “All Californians are being asked to stay at home if you do not need to go out for essential reasons.”

Health officials have asked local hospitals and laboratories to comply with county orders to report all testing results, positive or negative. A lack of reagent fluids is limiting the number of tests many facilities can complete a day, throwing off regional estimates of testing capabilities.

Under the stay-at-home mandate, all gyms and fitness centers are closed and gatherings of 10 or more are barred. The mandate also restricts childcare to “stable” groups of 10 children with one childcare provider.

The “stable” vocabulary refers to the same group of 10 children each day and the same provider each day. If a daycare or related business has more than 10 children, each group needs to be in separate rooms and cannot intermingle. Social distancing is encouraged even among the subgroups.

The health orders banning gatherings do not apply to public transit, airports or any other mass transportation. The Metropolitan Transit System said it would continue running buses and trolleys at least until March 31 with ramped-up sanitization procedures on vehicles and at stations.

All five tribal casinos in the county will remain closed through the end of the month.

On Thursday, San Diego County’s family resource centers, as well as the housing and community development services office, three of the five locations of the county clerk’s office and all treasurer-tax collector offices temporarily suspended in-person services. The closures are intended to help county residents practice social-distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Elsewhere, the Ramada hotel in Kearny Mesa announced it will be used as a quarantine site for people potentially exposed to coronavirus.

The Ramada by Wyndham San Diego North Hotel & Conference Center located near Kearny Mesa Road, north of Clairemont Mesa Boulevard near state Route 163, will be used by the federal government to house patients under quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. The hotel has 151 rooms and will be closed to the public.

The patients being transferred from the base to the hotel are experiencing mild or no symptoms, federal authorities said.

Fox5 reported the hotel is being monitored by the California Highway Patrol and U.S. Marshals Service. Conditions within the hotel are being controlled to prevent exposure to the public, authorities said.

The Disney cruise ship Wonder docked Thursday in San Diego, and none of the 1,980 passengers aboard show any respiratory problems consistent with COVID-19, though one crew member has tested positive for influenza. The passengers continued to disembark Friday.

Fletcher said the county had increased the number of available hotel rooms for unsheltered individuals or for those who cannot shelter in place to more than 1,300. Fletcher said Thursday that he and Supervisor Kristin Gaspar were writing a board letter seeking to place a moratorium on evictions in the county, including in unincorporated areas.

Fletcher, Faulconer and other local elected officials spoke with the government of Baja California on Thursday to work on cross-border solutions to the global problem of COVID-19.

Simon Property Group temporarily closed all its malls and outlets and the closure will last until at least March 29. The group owns several properties in San Diego County, including the Fashion Valley mall and Carlsbad and Las Americas Premium outlets.

Students at San Diego State University and University of San Diego were instructed to move out of their dorms amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Exceptions included students who can’t go home, those without a home to return to and those with known health and safety risks.

San Diego Community College District colleges, including City, Mesa and Miramar colleges, have officially closed their campuses. Remote operations for the schools will begin Monday.

San Diego County libraries have shifted to curbside pickup and drop-off to encourage residents to practice social distancing while still getting books, music and movies from the library. Residents can use the library’s online catalog or call their branch libraries and pick them up between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

County Supervisor Greg Cox said more than 200 hand-washing stations had been placed around the county.

The Navy closed its Training Support Command center in San Diego last week after a third sailor with ties to the school tested presumptive positive for the novel coronavirus. Two students and an instructor at the school have tested presumptive positive for the illness in the past several days, according to the Navy.

The latest sailor with ties to the school to test positive is stationed aboard the USS Essex and had been attending a course at Naval Base San Diego since Feb. 6.

Two more sailors, one stationed on the USS Boxer, which is home-ported in San Diego, and the other aboard the littoral combat ship Coronado based at Naval Base San Diego, also tested positive for COVID-19.

The schoolhouse where the training occurred will remain closed until further notice. Military health professionals are conducting a contact investigation to see if any additional precautionary measures need to be taken.

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

Kelvin Barrios, a candidate for the San Diego City Council’s 9th District, announced on his Facebook page Saturday that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

“Having ups and downs, with fever, headache and shortness of breath,” Barrios said on Facebook. “But still doing OK.”

And Chula Vista City Councilman Steve Padilla, who tested positive for coronavirus, remained hospitalized after experiencing difficulty breathing. Padilla was admitted to UC San Diego Thornton Hospital on Thursday night and
placed on a respirator in its intensive care unit after experiencing worsening symptoms, his daughter, Ashleigh, said in a statement.

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