County officials expand public health orders to combat coronavirus

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego County public health officials expanded public health orders in response to the coronavirus Wednesday, closing all gyms and fitness centers and restricting childcare to “stable” groups of 10 children with one childcare provider, effective at midnight.

The “stable” vocabulary refers to the same group of 10 children each day and the same provider each day, County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. 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 previous health orders banning groups of 50 or more do not apply to public transit, airports or any other mass transportation, Wooten said.

Meanwhile, the Ramada hotel in Kearny Mesa announced it will be used as a quarantine site for people potentially exposed to coronavirus.

The Ramada by Wyndham San Diego North Hotel & Conference Center located near Kearny Mesa Road, north of Clairemont Mesa Boulevard near state Route 163, will be used by the federal government to house patients currently under quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. The hotel has 151 rooms.

The patients being transferred from the base to the hotel are experiencing mild or no symptoms, the hotel said.

The hotel will be closed to the public during the quarantine. FOX 5 reported the hotel is being monitored by the California Highway Patrol and the U.S. Marshals Service. Conditions within the hotel are being controlled to prevent exposure to the public, authorities said.

Dr. Eric McDonald, head of the county’s epidemiology division, said there were 238 people in quarantine at MCAS Miramar, including two San Diegans. Of those, 38 were scheduled to leave the base Wednesday.

Holland America cruise ship Eurodam docked Wednesday in San Diego, and all 1,839 passengers and 61 of the more than 800 crew members disembarked. McDonald said none of the passengers were showing any symptoms of novel coronavirus, but three went to the hospital for unrelated medical issues.

“Self-quarantine is recommended after a cruise according to CDC guidelines,” McDonald said.

The Eurodam is scheduled to leave San Diego and head for Ensenada on Thursday.

County 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 2,000.

At 7 p.m., Simon Property Group will temporarily close all its malls and outlets until at least March 29. The group owns several properties in the county, including the Fashion Valley mall and Carlsbad and Las Americas Premium outlets.

Students at University of San Diego and San Diego State University will move out of their dorms amid the coronavirus pandemic.

San Diego State University students were sent an email Tuesday morning stating the university had plans to “expedite move-out plans for students this week.”

The university said that students living on campus are being asked to make arrangements to move out immediately. Most students should be out by 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Exceptions include students who can’t go home, those without a home to return to and those with known health and safety risks.

University of San Diego had originally asked residential students to move by March 22, but sent a memo Tuesday advising that all students should move out of their dorms by late Wednesday.

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.

The number of positive cases in the county rose Tuesday to 60 total in the county, including residents and non-residents alike.

The following new public health orders took effect Tuesday in an attempt to limit the spread of the illness, also known as COVID-19:

  • All public and private gatherings of 50 or more people are legally prohibited, and all nonessential gatherings of any size are strongly discouraged.
  • All bars, adult entertainment businesses and any business which serves alcohol and not food are to close.
  • All restaurants must prohibit dine-in service and restrict services to drive-through, take-out and delivery. Restaurants and employees are urged to follow social distancing guidelines during this time.
  • Businesses that require a doctor’s note for a leave of absence must suspend those policies until the public health crisis is over.
  • All public schools must cancel all classes, gatherings and events.
  • Nonessential personnel are prohibited from entering hospitals and long-term care facilities, and all essential personnel displaying symptoms of COVID-19 are prohibited.
  • Hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 must report such cases immediately to county health officials.
  • All people traveling to San Diego County from China, Iran, South Korea, Italy or any other country at extreme contagion risk must self- quarantine in their homes for 14 days, regardless if they show symptoms or not.
  • All people showing symptoms of COVID-19 must self-isolate in their homes.

Additionally, county health officials strongly urged people over the age of 65 with underlying medical conditions or a suppressed immune system to self-isolate. Hospitals were urged to delay elective procedures.

At least one person with a connection to three La Jolla schools has tested positive for COVID-19, San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten said in a statement late Tuesday.

“The schools impacted by this announcement are Bird Rock Elementary, La Jolla Elementary and La Jolla High School,” Marten said.

County health officials notified school district officials of the positive test or tests Tuesday afternoon, but no information about that person or people has been disclosed.

Encinitas Union School District reported late Sunday that a person at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School has tested presumptive positive for coronavirus. The district has not yet said whether the infected person was a student, teacher or school employee.

San Diego County libraries are shifting 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. Mondays through Fridays.

County Supervisor Greg Cox said the county had placed more than 200 hand-washing stations around the county.

The Navy announced Tuesday it closed its Training Support Command center in San Diego on Saturday after a third sailor with ties to the school tested presumptive positive for the novel coronavirus. Two students and an instructor at the school have tested presumptive positive for the illness in the past several days, according to the Navy.

The latest sailor with ties to the school to test positive is stationed aboard the USS Essex and had been attending a course at Naval Base San Diego since Feb. 6.

“The individual is currently isolated at home and restricted in movement,” according to a Navy statement that said personnel who came into contact with the sailor have been notified and are in self-isolation.

Two more sailors, one stationed on the USS Boxer, which is homeported in San Diego, and the other aboard the littoral combat ship Coronado based at Naval Base San Diego, also tested positive for COVID-19.

The schoolhouse where the training occurred will remain closed until further notice. Military health professionals are conducting a contact investigation to see if any additional precautionary measures need to be taken.

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

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