COVID-19 cases in San Diego County rises to 1,761
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The number of COVID-19 cases in San Diego County rose to 1,761 Saturday, and the deaths increased to 45, county health officials said.
Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer, said a man in his early 80s has died, adding to the death toll of 44 announced Friday.
There were 68 more positive cases announced Saturday, bringing the total number of positive cases in the county to 1,761, Wooten said.
There have been 30 outbreaks — multiple positive cases in one location — so far in the county, Dr. Wooten said. Twenty of those outbreaks were in congregate living facilities such as nursing homes, and 10 were in community settings.
Of the 1,761 cases, 396 have been hospitalized and 144 are in intensive care, Wooten said.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said officials are seeing an increase in the availability in testing and also seeing more experimental testing. Fletcher said the county will soon appoint a COVID-19 testing coordinator who will oversee bringing hospital and other health officials together to work on expanding testing.
Supervisor Greg Cox announced a new awareness campaign so that the public can submit photos of themselves holding a sign, such as “stay in place, maintain space and cover your face” that can be shared on social media. The website for more on the awareness campaign is livewellsd.org/psa.
“Let’s spread the word, not the virus,” Cox said.
Wooten said county health officials are working with public health officials in Tijuana to share coronavirus updates and information. “We are indeed engaged in regular calls with the leadership in public health in Tijuana and the consulate,” she said.
She said that if coronavirus patients from Baja want to visit a hospital in San Diego, that would be up to each individual hospital. But Wooten said she is not aware of that happening to date.
Dr. Eric McDonald, the county’s medical director of epidemiology, said the county is tracking any positive cases among the homeless population, whether coming from homeless encampments or emergency rooms. Investigators are tracking any people who have come in close contact with the homeless patient and the settings they’ve been in.
During the question-and-answer session with the media, Wooten was asked about when and if the county’s stay-at-home order will be extended.
“We have not peaked yet,” she said. “Once we reach the peak, then we will look at the number of cases after that point. It will be a gradual approach (on lifting any orders). But I can’t give you a specific time today.”
Cox said he was grateful to the baseball community for “stepping up the plate” and providing meals for first-line health workers.
He also thanked the many police, firefighters and lifeguards who paid tribute to health care workers at local hospitals Friday by flashing their emergency lights in a drive-by salute.
Cox said there will not be a health briefing on Easter Sunday, but the regular 2:30 p.m. briefings will return on Monday.
Even with San Diegans taking the public health orders seriously, Fletcher encouraged people celebrating Passover and Easter this weekend to continue to celebrate in person only with members of their immediate households.
“We know this is a weekend of particular significance for many,” he said. “This weekend would be a great time to reach out to someone; call them, Zoom them, yell out a window — as long as you’re six feet away.”
Several churches and synagogues have planned online services for the weekend to allow worshippers to practice social distancing.
A “social-distancing scoreboard” revealed that most of Southern California was earning a “C+” grade, including San Diego, Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles counties.
“I know we say `Beat L.A.’ a lot in San Diego, but it looks like we have some work to do to pass our neighbors to the north,” Fletcher said.
On the same scoreboard, developed by a third-party software developer, Santa Barbara County earned top marks with an “A-” while California averaged a “B” grade.
The county and the 23 hospitals in the region have administered 23,353 COVID-19 tests, around 93% of which have returned negative. San Diego County has distributed 1.95 million pieces of personal protective equipment, including 797,000 N95 respirators, 716,000 pairs of gloves and 364,000 surgical masks.
Fletcher said that despite the response, the county was waiting on state and federal help, as “a number of entities are beginning to run low” on supplies.
He reported the county’s hospitals had 554 ventilators, not including 93 in the county supply ready to deploy when and where necessary.
Five Scripps Health hospital campuses in San Diego County are now equipped with a point-of-care test that can detect coronavirus in as little as five minutes.
The test, which will be used to screen for COVID-19 in hospitalized patients requiring quick diagnostic turnaround, can deliver a positive result in as little as five minutes and a negative result in 13 minutes, a hospital statement said Thursday. The diagnostic tool received emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on March 27.
The city of San Diego on Thursday night rescinded furloughs it ordered last week for 800 city workers and agreed to continue paying those employees their full salaries while finding them other city tasks during the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Most of the employees had been working at city libraries and recreation centers before those facilities closed, while others worked for the city’s Transportation and Stormwater Department, according to the newspaper.
The reversal comes after the labor union representing most of the workers, the Municipal Employees Association, filed a grievance Saturday.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy announced Saturday that 103 new cases of the coronavirus onboard the San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, bringing the number of positive cases on the ship to 550.
USS Theodore Roosevelt Capt. Brett Crozier was relieved of his duties April 2, three days after a letter he wrote asking for a stronger response to the coronavirus outbreak on the ship was published in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Crozier has since tested positive for COVID-19.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who fired Crozier, submitted his resignation Monday after a recording surfaced of him addressing the crew over the ship’s PA system, in which he called Crozier’s actions “a betrayal” and said he believed the captain either purposefully sent the letter to unauthorized parties or must have been “too naive or too stupid” to realize the import of his actions.