San Diego County officials order restaurants to close by 10 p.m. to prevent spread of COVID-19

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – San Diego County officials reported 474 new COVID-19 cases and seven additional deaths Wednesday, as the county prepared to close all restaurants by 10 p.m.

The cases mark the fifth time in six days reported cases have topped 400. The seven deaths occurred between June 26 and June 30 and the ages of the deceased — three men and four women — ranged from 57 to 89, San Diego County public health officials said.

Of the 7,825 tests reported Wednesday, 6% came back positive. The 14- day rolling average percentage of positive tests is 4.5%.

The county has now reported a total of 14,623 COVID-19 cases and 372 deaths.

The new restaurant closing time follows action earlier this week to halt all reopenings until at least Aug. 1 and to shutter all bars, breweries and wineries not licensed to serve food.

According to County Supervisor Greg Cox, the longer people stay at restaurants, particularly if they are drinking alcohol, the more relaxed they get with social distancing, face coverings and other public health orders.

Other businesses that serve food and alcohol will have restrictions in place as well. Starting Wednesday, customers purchasing alcohol on-site must also purchase food, and both drinks and food must be consumed sitting down.

County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said patrons already inside eateries by 10 p.m. may stay inside until 11 p.m., but those locations must be closed from then until 5 a.m. each day. Staff required to clean those facilities may remain inside after closing hours.

While cases have spiked in San Diego County, it is the sole county in Southern California not named by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday. The 19 counties on the list Newsom cited are being ordered to halt much of their indoor business activity for at least three weeks.

“We’re the only Southern California county not forced to take action by the governor,” County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said. “I think that is partly because of proactive steps we took before other counties.”

But San Diego is not immune. According to the state’s metrics, San Diego County is officially “flagged” for recording positive COVID-19 cases at a rate of more than 100 per 100,000 people. The county reported a rate of 105 positive cases per 100,000 Wednesday. If that holds through Thursday — a trend Wooten said she and county officials are already anticipating — the county will be placed on a watchlist, which could then lead to the more strict orders.

In short, unless case numbers and hospitalizations change, San Diego County could be forced to restrict dine-in seating and other indoor business activities as soon as Monday.

Another three community outbreaks were reported Wednesday, raising the one-week count to 13, well over the limit of seven San Diego County set for itself with a series of 13 triggers. The outbreaks came in a restaurant, a “food source” and an unspecified business. Of the week’s 13 outbreaks, six were traced to restaurants or bars.

Fletcher said that with the July 4 holiday weekend upcoming, closures were not anticipated for beaches, as he said all community outbreaks in the county have come from indoor settings such as bars, restaurants and gatherings at private residences.

Tuesday marked the highest number of patients in local hospitals on any given day due to COVID-19, with 493 hospitalized. Wednesday saw a drop to 453, but still a number considerably higher than a previous “peak” in late April.

Categories: Coronavirus, Health, Local San Diego News, Politics