Coronavirus: San Diego County reports 125 new cases, 7 more deaths

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – San Diego County reported another 125 cases of COVID- 19 and seven additional deaths Saturday, bringing the county’s totals to 6,559 cases and 249 deaths.

The total number of cases requiring hospitalization is 1,224 and the cases requiring intensive care are 369, the County Health and Human Services Agency reported.

The five men and two women who died were between the ages of 51-90 years, the agency said. The dates of deaths of these cases ranged from May 18 to May 21 and all had underlying medical conditions.

On Friday, the county reported 3,795 new tests, with a seven-day average of 3,965. The county has set a goal of 5,200 daily tests.

The estimated number of recovered COVID-19 patients is 4,527, the agency said.

The 14-day rolling average percentage of new positive cases among county residents is 3.4%.

As San Diegans headed for area beaches on the start of the Memorial Day weekend, Lifeguard Services officials said beachgoers seemed to be following county health guidelines issued to slow the spread of the coronavius pandemic.

On Saturday afternoon it was still early to gauge crowd estimates at all coastal beaches, but at La Jolla beaches, it was a “pretty routine” day, 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 on 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.

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

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

Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Friday asked San Diegans 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.’

On Thursday, the county reopened dine-in restaurants and retail shopping, 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.

Undersheriff Mike Barnett said Friday that law enforcement was “very concerned” with what they saw.

“We run the real risk of having a setback,” he said. “The San Diego Sheriff’s Office provides services for nearly a million people, and we have only given out 137 citations so far and none in the past seven days. That’s one- one hundredth of 1%. We are not looking to increase this.”

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

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.”

Valley View Casino & Hotel and Harrah’s Resort Southern California both reopened with restrictions Friday.

Jamul Casino reopened its doors Thursday, Sycuan reopened Wednesday and Viejas Casino and Resort reopened Monday.

Restrictions at all five casinos include bingo and poker remaining closed, restaurants operating for limited hours and gaming areas requiring social distancing between players and staff.

Tables games will be limited to a maximum of three players per table and every other slot machine will be turned off to further encourage space between players.

Patrons and staff will also be required to undergo temperature checks, wear masks at all times and practice physical distancing.

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