Parks in Vista to reopen, face covering now required in Chula Vista

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Parks in the city of Vista will reopen for “passive use” Friday, while anyone who visits an essential business in Chula Vista is now required to wear a face covering.

Parkgoers in Vista must practice physical distancing and will be limited to individual or household unit activities, such as walking, jogging or running. Dogs on leashes will be permitted.

Group activities and active sports will not be allowed, meaning athletic fields, skate parks, playgrounds, and all other areas related to group activities would remain closed until further notice.

In the South Bay, restrictions are tightening.

National City ordered Tuesday that every person out in public is required to wear a facial covering. Chula Vista followed suit Thursday, requiring anyone at essential businesses to wear a face covering.

San Diego County health officials reported four additional deaths and 152 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday, marking the largest single-day increase in positive cases since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The total number of COVID-19 cases now stands at 2,643 and the death count has reached 100. The previous highest case increase was April 2, when 146 new cases were reported. Tuesday marked the biggest increase in the death count, with 15 reported fatalities.

The latest deaths involved two women and two men, ranging in age from their mid-60s to late 70s, and all had underlying health issues, said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer.

Dr. Eric McDonald, the county’s epidemiology director, said Wednesday the uptick in deaths this week may not reflect the direction the pandemic is taking locally. Calling deaths a “lagging indicator,” he noted that physicians have eight days to file death certificates and nine deaths reported Wednesday occurred over a four-day period from last Friday through Monday.

Deaths are not being used as an indicator to make decisions such as when to loosen or lift public health orders, McDonald said.

The county reported 28 deaths from the respiratory illness over the three-day period ending Thursday, the deadliest three-day stretch since the coronavirus outbreak began. The number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations rose to 624 on Thursday, and the number of patients being treated in intensive care units climbed to 213, representing increases of 23 and seven, respectively, from Wednesday.

Of the 100 people who have died of the disease, 53 were white, 30 were Latino and nine were Asian.

Despite the growing death toll, county officials are cautiously optimistic.

“At this time, the response of San Diego residents to stay home, physical distancing and other orders and requests is bending the curve and has prevented the type of surge seen elsewhere,” according to a county statement announcing that a federal medical station loaned to the county is now ready for patients if needed.

The 202-bed emergency overflow medical facility — which will not be used unless the county’s resources are stretched too thin — occupies two formerly vacant floors of Palomar Medical Center Escondido.

Officials also announced that San Diego County received $334 million in CARES Act funding on Thursday. Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the federal money, designated for COVID-19 emergency response, will be doled out in the coming weeks per federal guidelines.

Fletcher said increased testing numbers were also a good sign, as it helps more accurately trace cases of the novel coronavirus, while noting that a side-effect of accurate testing would be an increase in reported cases.

The second-highest number of total daily tests since the pandemic began — 2,255 — was reported Thursday. The county and regional hospitals have now completed more than 38,000 tests, with a positive test rate of around 6.7%. The county estimates that 1,528 people have recovered from COVID-19, but it does not have an exact, verifiable recovery number.

Of all positive-testing coronavirus cases, 24% of the patients have been hospitalized and 8.1% sent to intensive care. Nearly 4% of COVID-19 patients have died, a rate higher than most jurisdictions are reporting.

“This is one of several indicators that there are undiagnosed cases in our community,” McDonald said.

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