First county resident dies after contracting coronavirus

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO (CNS) — The first coronavirus death of a San Diego resident was reported Sunday by San Diego County Health Department officials.

The unidentified San Diego resident, who was in his early 70s, was being cared for in Santa Clara County, said county Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten at an afternoon briefing. She said he might have contracted the virus after traveling to Hawaii.

No further information about the death was immediately released.

Wooten said there were 159 cases in the county as of Saturday evening. The number of total cases will be updated later Sunday if necessary, she said.

Also Sunday, U.S. Pacific Fleet officials announced that seven sailors who were onboard San Diego-based ships have tested positive for COVID-19.

Two sailors tested positive Friday and five more tested positive Saturday, according to a statement from U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs.

“These sailors are currently isolated off ship and restricted in movement in accordance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines,” the statement said. “Personnel who were immediately identified as having close contact with these sailors have been notified, placed in a restriction of movement status at their residences off the ship and are being monitored.”

The Navy didn’t say which ships the sailors who tested positive were on, but the ships involved are screening all personnel coming aboard and undergoing deep cleaning with bleach twice a day, officials said.

A sailor from Naval Base Coronado reported symptoms of COVID-19 to his supervisor on March 17, according to officials from the base. He tested positive on Friday and is now restricted to his residence, receiving medical care.

“Personnel that the individual immediately identified having close contact with have been notified and are in self-quarantine at their resident,” the base’s public affairs office said. “Military health professionals are conducting a thorough contact investigation to determine whether any other personnel may have been in close contact and possibly exposed.”

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 at a Saturday briefing that when he looked at some of the data, he saw “something pretty remarkable.”

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

The health department will hold another coronavirus briefing Sunday, which will include San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who is expected to talk about homeless outreach.

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 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,” San Diego 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.”

Under the stay-at-home mandate, all gyms and fitness centers are closed. 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 Saturday, the Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa in Rancho Santa Fe said it was closing for a month.

Other San Diego resorts said they have shut down or are expected to close this weekend. The Manchester Grand Hyatt, the Pendry, the L’Auberge Del Mar and Paradise Point on Mission Bay have announced closures.

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.

Supervisor Nathan 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.

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.

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

The chair of San Diego’s Democratic Party, Will Rodriguez-Kennedy has announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19, the latest in a string of infections involving party associates.

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 Sunday 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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