County to close bars, breweries, wineries that don’t serve food

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SAN DIEGO — County officials announced Monday that they will order bars, breweries and wineries that serve alcohol but not food to close this week.

This comes as public health officials reported a single-day record of 498 new positive COVID-19 cases, the fifth straight day of more than 400 new cases and a new daily high for the sixth time in a week. Of the 6,908 tests reported Monday, 7% returned positive. The percentage of positive tests has increased sharply over the last four days, raising the county’s rolling 14-day average to 4.1% of positive tests.

With no new deaths reported Monday, that number remains at 361.

Additionally, the number of patients in the hospital due to COVID-19 has risen from 326 one week ago to 458 Monday, including 178 in intensive care – – a gain of 26 patients compared to June 21.

Of confirmed cases, 55% were people between the ages of 20 and 49; 22% were in their 20s.

County officials decided to close drinking-only establishments because of the recent increase in the daily number of positive COVID-19 diagnoses and the increase in the number of community outbreaks, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said. Given the increase in the spread of the virus, the action announced Monday is appropriate and wise, Fletcher said.

People can still drink alcoholic beverages served with meals and restaurants, but they cannot order drinks without food, Fletcher said.

The new rules will go into effect on Wednesday, July 1, Fletcher added.

On Tuesday, San Diego County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten clarified that the order closing drinking-only establishments does not apply to wineries that offer outdoor service.

As the region faces another holiday weekend in which large gatherings are tradition, officials hope dialing back what can be open will help slow the spread of the virus.

“We simply cannot celebrate July 4 as we have in the past,” County Supervisor Greg Cox said.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher echoed Cox’s comments, adding that if cases continue to rise at an alarming rate, we could head back into near total lockdown.

“It’s certainly a possibility, but the worst-case scenario for our region,” he said. “We cannot do this alone. We can’t stop (the spread of the illness), but we want to slow it. It’s better if we can take incremental steps to dial things back.”

With Independence Day this Saturday, the officials also reminded residents that gatherings were still against public health orders and urged people not to throw parties — indoor or outdoor — in celebration.

“The pandemic is not over,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s public health officer. “The virus is still pervasive in our communities. Please don’t throw dinner or house parties.”

In the past seven days, seven community outbreaks were identified, including two in restaurants reported Monday, officials said. The number of community outbreaks is above the threshold set by the county, which established 13 “triggers” that could set back reopenings.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said a significant spike in cases could be traced to the periods following restaurants opening, churches allowing services, and the mass protests calling for police reform.

Wooten, suggesting how long the COVID-19 pandemic could impact the region, said it may not be safe for people to have gatherings at their homes “until sometime next year.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday ordered all bars to close in seven counties, including Los Angeles County, and recommended that eight other counties close their bars as well to limit the rapid spread of coronavirus.

The eight other counties included Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

San Diego County was not included in either list.

The historic Hotel del Coronado reopened Friday after shuttering for the first time in its history.

It will be open at reduced capacity and with fewer amenities.

CVS Health opened no-cost testing sites Friday at select CVS Pharmacy drive-thrus in San Diego County. Self-swab tests will be available to individuals meeting U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, in addition to state and age guidelines.

Patients must register in advance to schedule an appointment at www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-19-testing.

The testing sites are located at these CVS pharmacies:

  • 1810 Main St., Ramona;
  • 6265 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego; and
  • 800 Palm Ave., Imperial Beach.

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