SAN DIEGO (CNS) — San Diego County health officials said Sunday that seven food handlers have tested positive for COVID-19: four restaurant employees and three grocery store employees.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced during Sunday’s briefing on the coronavirus pandemic that no patients have died in the last 24 hours, leaving the death toll in San Diego County at seven.
Later Sunday, the county announced that 519 county residents have now tested positive for coronavirus, a 31-case increase since Saturday evening.
“Fortunately, there is no additional loss of life to report today,” Fletcher said.
One grocery store employee who tested positive is from an Albertson’s store in Escondido, Fletcher said, adding that the store did the right thing by closing, alerting county environmental health officials, following sanitation protocols, then re-opening to customers.
“The store will remain open, and we will continue to follow an enhanced cleaning and disinfection process in every department,” Albertsons said in a statement. “We have reaffirmed with all associates that they need to wash hands and disinfect check stands every hour and to practice social distancing.”
Two employees at the Sprouts Farmers Market located on El Camino Real in Carlsbad also tested positive. One employee was last in the store on March 15; the other on March 17.
“If you have a sick worker, they must stay home,” Fletcher said, urging employers to call 858-505-6814 to report any sick workers.
Dr. Eric McDonald, the county’s medical director of epidemiology, said co-workers of the Albertson’s employee who display any symptoms of the coronavirus infection will be sent home, but there are no tests pending in this case.
Health officials also stressed that there is no evidence of COVID-19 association with food. They cited the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Fletcher also said that the county is increasing inspections of the many food facilities in the region.
Meanwhile, a Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship will dock in San Diego on Monday.
“The health of the ship is excellent right now,” McDonald said. County health officials are in continuous contact with the ship’s crew for any sign of symptoms, he said.
McDonald said 17 cruise passengers are from San Diego County and they will go straight home after disembarking from the ship and will self-quarantine for 14 days. About 1,500 other passengers are from outside the county and after disembarking they will travel home and self-quarantine.
Fletcher said a positive meeting was held recently with all hospital CEOs in San Diego where they discussed obtaining more personal protective equipment, the sharing of testing equipment among hospitals and increasing hospital bed capacity.
McDonald explained that the number of test results reported may decrease because the labs send those reports to the county electronically and the system is down on the weekends.
“So we expect the test result numbers to go down,” McDonald said.
The doctor also said the risk of contracting the coronavirus disease can increase from vaping and smoking.
“Any lung disease or condition would put you at risk,” McDonald said. “We don’t have specific cases so far, but our strong recommendation is to use this opportunity to quit.”
On Saturday, Fletcher said the county was issuing a new public health order, extending indefinitely until further notice all closure orders that were set to expire March 31.
“We still are in the early days,” Fletcher said. The closure order applies to schools, non-essential businesses, restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, he said, and anyone 65 or older should continue to quarantine themselves at home.