142 more COVID-19 cases reported in San Diego County

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – San Diego County has reported another 142 cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths, bringing the county’s totals to 6,701 cases and deaths remaining at 249.

The total number of cases requiring hospitalization is 1,232 and cases requiring intensive care are 369, the County Health and Human Services Agency reported.

Of the 4,548 tests reported to the county Saturday, 3% were positive new cases.

The estimated number of recovered COVID-19 patients is 4,677, the agency said.

The 14-day rolling-average percentage of new positive cases among county residents is 3.3%.

Some 1.3 million Roman Catholics in the San Diego County diocese are being invited to attend in-person Masses as early June 8 after closing for COVID-19 in mid-March, church officials said this weekend.

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

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 13: California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the California State Capitol on March 13, 2019 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The announcement comes as churches statewide looked forward to guidance Monday from Gov. Gavin Newsom on how they can reopen.

“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 fourteenth,” Bishop Robert McElroy said in a letter written Friday and posted Saturday on a private Facebook group. “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.

On Sunday, diocesan Vice Chancellor Kevin C. Eckery told Times of San Diego, “We’ll be announcing the reopening plan next week.”

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.

The Rev. Andre Ramos of Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Santee was among pastors sending letters to parishioners.

“The privilege of celebrating Masses will be ours again but under necessary measures to make sure our acts of worship are safe,” Ramos wrote. “As long as the threat of COVID-19 is not fully eradicated, we have to protect ourselves and others from infection, illness and even death.”

In another email, the Rev. Carlos Medina of St. Patrick’s said space inside his North Park church has been measured and allows 65 people to enter and be spaced six feet apart. “There could be more people, since these measurements and calculations did not take into consideration households,” he said in a letter dated May 16 about a preliminary draft of the plan. “However, on average Sundays prior to the ongoing pandemic, two of our Masses reached over 200 people in average attendance.”

Medina added that St. Patrick’s will continue to livestream or record Masses on YouTube with the link posted on Facebook and his website.

Eckery said that although baptisms, weddings and funeral Masses will be allowed beginning the second week of June, distancing and other measures must be complied with.

San Diegans headed for area beaches during Memorial Day weekend. Lifeguard Services officials on Saturday said beachgoers seemed to be following county health guidelines issued to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

At La Jolla beaches, it was a “pretty routine” day on Saturday, according to Marine Safety Lt. Maureen Hodges of Lifeguard Services.

“Lifeguards made some rescues,” Hodges said. “But so far, we’re off to a good start here in La Jolla.”

Lifeguards were focusing on water safety and making sure runners and walkers kept moving on the sand, Hodges said. She encouraged beachgoers to come to the beach, get their exercising in, then leave.

“We want all San Diegans and visitors to enjoy our beaches,” Lifeguard Chief James Gartland said Friday. “However, the public health rules that are in place must be followed this weekend. We expect a lot of visitors and will work closely with our partners at San Diego Police Department to make sure everyone stays safe.”

The rules for beaches and shorelines state that only walking and running are allowed. “No stopping, sitting or lying down,” the rules state.

In the ocean, only swimming, surfing, kayaking and single-person paddling are allowed.

In San Diego bays, single-household recreational boating is allowed, along with fishing, but not from the shoreline. No swimming on the bay and Mission Bay Park.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer

Boardwalks, piers, parking lots and Fiesta Island are closed.

Gatherings and non-physical distancing activities are not allowed anywhere.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer asked San Diegans on Friday to “follow public health rules that keep us safe.”

“We’ve all worked so hard, so let’s enjoy our progress but not give up the gains we’ve made,” Faulconer said. “Whether you’re on the sand or at a shop this weekend, stay classy out there, San Diego.’

The county reopened dine-in restaurants and retail shopping Thursday, but health officials saw “egregious” disregard for public health orders, so one business was forced to close on Friday.

A video clip played at Friday’s news briefing taken at El Prez, a popular Pacific Beach sports bar and restaurant, showed dozens of people in close physical contact without face coverings standing at the bar. The restaurant was closed by the county and will “remain closed until further notice,” said San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

He said the vast majority of restaurateurs are following health orders and not endangering the public, but a few “bad faith actors” could seriously impact the county’s efforts to recover from the effects of COVID-19.

Restaurants and shops must fill out the county’s Safe Reopening Plan form and post it publicly to reopen, Fletcher said.

San Diego County Supervisor spoke with reportes via Zoom to explain the multi-million dollar local stimulus package he is proposing.
San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher

Some of the guidelines restaurants must adhere to include having tables six feet apart, having temperature screening of employees, requiring facial coverings on employees at all times and on customers unless they are seated, and encouraging reservations.

Retail stores have similar restrictions, including limiting the number of shoppers in stores to maintain social distancing and requiring facial coverings for employees and customers at all times.

Jeff Rossman, president of the San Diego branch of the California Restaurant Association, urged diners to be patient with businesses, who were doing everything they can with limited supplies, information and staff.

“We encourage people to take their time,” he said, noting he would open his own two restaurants the first week of June. “Please don’t come in if you’re sick. Please be courteous, comply with signage and give yourselves extra time to comply. We’ve seen the long lines at casinos reopening, we don’t want people queuing. Wait in your car if possible until your table is ready.”

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