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5 Scripps Health Hospital campuses now equipped with rapid COVID-19 tests

The diagnostic tool received emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on March 27.
Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla named on top performing hospital list

SAN DIEGO — Five Scripps Health hospital campuses in San Diego County are now equipped with a point-of-care test that can detect coronavirus in as little as five minutes.

The test, which will be used to screen for COVID-19 in hospitalized patients requiring quick diagnostic turnaround, can deliver a positive result in as little as five minutes and a negative result in 13 minutes, a hospital statement said Thursday. The diagnostic tool received emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on March 27.

San Diego County officials have expanded a public health order requiring facial coverings for additional essential employees.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced Thursday that bank employees, public transportation workers and childcare providers who serve food must now wear non-medical grade facial coverings at work. Public transportation includes public employees such as those working for the Metropolitan Transit System, but also includes drivers for Uber and Lyft and cab drivers.

The number of COVID-19 cases reached 1,628 on Thursday -- an increase of 98 from Wednesday -- and four new deaths brought the death toll to 40.

Of total cases, 348 have been hospitalized, 132 of which have been placed in intensive care. The county estimates 301 county residents have recovered from the illness.

Fletcher said the county estimated the recoveries by taking the last known positive tests for the illness, waiting two weeks and subtracting any loss of life. It is a rough estimate, but does give some semblance of the county's picture, he said, noting it was similar to how Johns Hopkins University tracked cases and recovery worldwide.

The county's number of confirmed outbreaks of the illness grew to 28 Thursday, including three new outbreaks in congregate living facilities, bringing that total to 20. Those outbreaks could be tracked to 183 cases and 15 deaths. The other eight outbreaks could be traced to 38 cases and one death.

The last several days have seen more than half the total deaths among county residents from the pandemic -- 21 confirmed fatalities. Fletcher said the number of positive tests were increasing, but not at an alarming rate.

He said that while the 98 cases reported Thursday is the most in the past several days, it "wasn't a cause for alarm, just as fewer cases a few days ago was not a cause for relief."

Fletcher reiterated what has been a common point from him over the past month in stating that day-over-day results were not the best way to get a full picture of the health crisis.

The county and the 23 hospitals in the region have administered 22,098 COVID-19 tests, around 93% of which have returned negative. San Diego County has distributed 1.9 million pieces of personal protective equipment, including 788,145 N95 respirators, 711,000 pairs of gloves and 362,665 surgical masks.

Fletcher said that despite the response, the county was waiting on state and federal help, as "a number of entities are beginning to run low" on supplies.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Thursday that a dozen of the downtown library's 3D printers are being used to print face shields for local hospitals.

The printers can collectively produce about 50 face shields per day at a time when they are at a premium.

While the library remains closed to the public per local public health orders, its infrastructure is being utilized as part of Faulconer's order issued last week making all city properties available for COVID-19-related uses.

The city of San Diego on Thursday night rescinded furloughs it ordered last week for 800 city workers and has agreed to continue paying those employees their full salaries while finding them other city tasks during the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego Union Tribune reported.

Most of the employees had been working at city libraries and recreation centers before those facilities closed, while others worked for the city's Transportation and Stormwater Department, according to the newspaper.

The reversal comes after the labor union representing most of the workers, the Municipal Employees Association, filed a grievance last Saturday.

A sailor assigned to the San Diego-based aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt was in intensive care as of Thursday afternoon after being found in his room on the ship docked in Guam, the Navy said Thursday.

The sailor tested positive for COVID-19 on March 30 and was found unresponsive on Thursday, Navy officials said.

Former USS Theodore Roosevelt Capt. Brett Crozier was relieved of his duties on April 2, three days after a letter he wrote asking for a stronger response to the coronavirus outbreak on the ship was published in the San Francisco Chronicle and other media outlets.

Crozier has since tested positive for COVID-19, as have 416 sailors on the vessel, as of Thursday.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who fired Crozier, submitted his resignation Monday after a recording surfaced of him addressing the crew over the ship's PA system, in which he called Crozier's actions "a betrayal" and said he believed the captain either purposefully sent the letter to unauthorized parties or must have been "too naive or too stupid" to realize the import of his actions. 

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