SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced 98 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday bringing the total to 3,141 cases in the county. Fletcher also reported two additional deaths bringing the total reported deaths to 113.
San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., reported that both of the people who died from the virus most recently had underlying health conditions. One was a female in her early 60s and the other was a male in his mid-50s.
The county and regional hospitals reported 823 test results Monday, with 12% returning positive. This represents a considerably higher rate than the rolling average -- around 6% since the pandemic began. There are 1,734 COVID-19 positive individuals who have recovered from the illness, San Diego County health officials estimate, and 363 coronavirus patients were hospitalized as of Monday.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 706 people have been hospitalized due to the illness and 230 have been sent to intensive care units. Around 22.5% of all positive-testing individuals have been hospitalized, 7.3% have entered the ICU at some point and 3.6% have died.
Fletcher also said county staff is working with cities on plans to gradually open parks and businesses, but such moves would be made incrementally and cautiously. He said any city wishing to reopen will have to have specific plans detailing how they would implement social distancing and post signs notifying the public of the restrictions.
Additionally, the county public health order going into effect Friday mandating facial coverings in public will have to be factored into any plan.
"We believe face coverings are going to be part of our life for the foreseeable future," Fletcher said.
How long it will last remains unknown, but he said the development of widespread vaccinations or other treatments for COVID-19 would play a major role in when the county goes back to "normal."
Supervisor Greg Cox also spoke briefly about the countywide public health directive on facial coverings. Cox said individuals should have a face-covering - either a mask, scarf, or similar item - on them at all times and use it to cover their face whenever they are within six feet of someone they do not live with.
Supervisor Cox also announced two new, appointment-only COVID-19 testing sites were opened Monday in Escondido and Chula Vista. One of the drive-up free testing sites is at the North Inland Live Well Center in Escondido, and the other is at the Live Well Center in Chula Vista.
“The two sites were opened to test people with symptoms to meet the needs of the community,” said Wooten. “Our goal is to make testing as widely available as capacity and supplies will allow us.”
A doctor referral and appointment are needed to visit the testing sites. People with symptoms who have a health care provider should contact their doctor to get tested. People with symptoms without a provider or health care coverage can call 2-1-1 and ask to speak to the nurse triage line to request a referral. The nurses can give a referral and make an appointment to get tested.
People without an appointment will not be tested.
Hours of operation at the two sites are as follows:
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Monday to Friday
North Inland Live Well Escondido Center
649 W. Mission Ave., Escondido, CA 92025
1 – 7 p.m.
Monday to Friday
Live Well Center at Chula Vista
690 Oxford Street, Chula Vista, CA 91911
Testing capacity will also continue at the County’s first drive-up site at the San Diego County Credit Union Stadium in Mission Valley.
Mobile testing sites will soon be deployed in other parts of the region to accommodate the growing demand for testing.
The nasal swab tests at all three sites are conducted by County Public Health nurses and using the County Public Health lab. Results typically take between 24-48 hours.
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According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, as with any other respiratory illness:
Know how it spreads
There is no vaccine
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus
It is thought to spread mainly from person-person between people in close contact
And believed to be spread by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes
Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds
If soap and water aren't available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Put distance between yourselves and others
Stay home when you are sick
Wear a facemask if you are sick
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
If you don't have tissue, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow
Immediately wash your hands after coughing and sneezing
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
You can find information on disinfecting and cleaning on the CDC's How to Protect Yourself page.
The California Department of Public Health has issued guidance on the use of cloth face coverings to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
The County of San Diego has made face coverings mandatory for those working with the public including grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and similar businesses.
While officials say these face coverings are not a substitute for practices like social distancing and handwashing, there is evidence to suggest that the use of cloth face coverings by the public during a pandemic could help reduce disease transmission. Officials do not recommend the public use N-95 or surgical masks which are needed by health care workers and first responders.