Another county resident dies from coronavirus, health officials say

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego County health officials reported another death from COVID-19 Saturday, bringing the total number of deaths in the county to seven.

A man in his 80s with underlying medical conditions was the latest San Diego County resident to die, Dr. Nicholas Yphantides, the county’s chief medical officer, said at a news briefing Saturday afternoon.

That man’s death, combined with the death of a 25-year-old pharmacy technician and San Diego County resident announced Friday, underscores a “sober reality that COVID-19 can affect individuals of all ages,” Yphantides said.

The medical officer said 76 new cases in the county announced Friday brought the number of cases to 417, but that total rose again on Saturday as health officials announced 71 new cases, bringing the number of county residents who have been positively diagnosed to 488.

Of the 488 patients, 63% are between the ages of 20-49. The percentage of those who have been hospitalized is 20%, with 9% admitted to ICU.

Yphantides said 12 nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the county were investigated for possible coronavirus outbreaks. Five have been ruled out as outbreaks, with three confirmed outbreaks and four under ongoing investigation, he said.

“In this battle, we are all soldiers,” said County Supervisor Greg Cox of District 1. “I know it’s frustrating. But we need you to be strong. We need you to be less like San Diegans and more like North Dakotans.”

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county is 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.

The 25-year-old pharmacy technician died in the Riverside County community of La Quinta on Wednesday, according to that county’s public health officer. The technician didn’t have any underlying health issues.

Also on Friday, San Diego County health officials confirmed the death of one of the passengers of the Grand Princess cruise ship, who was among those who had been placed under federal quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. His death was not included in the county figures because he was not a San Diego County resident.

Dr. Eric McDonald, the county’s medical director of epidemiology, said the 86-year-old man was one of a handful of patients from the cruise ship remaining in the county. The majority were sent home after their two-week quarantine.

A crew member from the Disney Wonder cruise ship, which docked in San Diego on March 19, has also tested positive for coronavirus, county officials said Saturday. County health officials said they were working with the ship’s medical staff to make sure all other crew members are healthy.

San Diego city officials announced Friday that three more San Diego lifeguards have tested positive for COVID-19 — the disease caused by the virus — bringing the total number of lifeguards who have tested positive to four. One lifeguard tested positive on Thursday, officials said.

Also, the San Diego Police Department announced Friday that for the first time, a police officer has tested positive for COVID-19.

Scripps Health CEO Chris Van Gorder issued a plea for San Diegans to be more diligent when it comes to stay-at-home orders.

“People must take social distancing more seriously. The shelter in place mandate must be stricter,” he said. “I realize that may mean a more significant effect on our economy, but as a healthcare provider, my concern is about the health and well-being of my doctors, nurses and support staff, as well as that of my own family. And yours.

“Our own projections show Scripps overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients in a matter of weeks if we don’t take stronger action,” Van Gorder said. “With 30% success in social distancing we will flatten the curve, but by June we could have up to 8,000 concurrent patients requiring care just at Scripps for our 1,200 beds. Without any social distancing or other mitigation efforts, we are projecting the need to care for over 12,000 patients concurrently at the peak, far exceeding our 1,200 beds.”

Fletcher told reporters that he is in discussions about the possibility of acquiring more motel rooms or even dormitories at UC San Diego to help isolate people who test positive or show coronavirus symptoms, or those who are not under investigation for the illness but have no other place to shelter.

The county currently has 1,810 rooms set aside for that purpose, with just 26 people using them so far. Another 216 rooms are being managed by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, with 154 previously-unsheltered people using the rooms.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department announced Thursday that a nurse at the Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility in Santee tested positive for COVID-19 and nine employees of the detention facility are self- quarantining.

Two more sailors aboard San Diego-based ships tested positive for the coronavirus, Navy officials reported Thursday.

Seventeen additional positive diagnoses were revealed Wednesday among sailors and Navy employees, including a civilian who had been working at the Naval Air Station North Island Child Development Center. The employee began feeling ill two weeks ago and has been absent from work since then, officials said.

The latest cases brings the total number of local military testing positive for coronavirus to 35, including 20 sailors on Navy ships and 14 shore- based sailors. Three Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and one marine at Camp Pendleton have also tested positive for the virus.

Find out where coronavirus cases have been confirmed in San Diego County.

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