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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer directed all city-operated buildings and facilities to fly flags at half-staff Monday to pay tribute to people who have lost their lives to the coronavirus.

“The city of San Diego is flying flags at half-staff in tribute to every American, Californian and San Diegan who has fallen to COVID-19 and in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in hard-hit places like New York,” Faulconer said. “The sudden passing of so many fellow Americans from a pandemic disease is unparalleled in modern history. It is with a heavy heart that we mourn the continued loss of life and I ask that you join me by keeping the departed in your thoughts and prayers.”

Over the weekend, the United States passed the grim milestone of 20,000 deaths from the illness. New York has recorded more than 9,000 fatalities so far — the most of any state. Last week the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, described the impact as worse than the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and ordered the state’s flags lowered to half-staff.

County health reports indicate San Diego’s early actions may have made significant impact on the region’s efforts to “flatten the curve” of local COVID-19 cases — limiting the peak number of cases below the hospital system’s capacity to handle them — although time will be the best judge of those actions and their effectiveness.

Faulconer has begun to express cautious optimism, but he continues to urge vigilance, echoing warnings from public health officials that a premature easing of orders that mandate physical distancing might contribute to a second wave of infections.

A statewide “stay-at-home” order is in effect until at least April 30.