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San Diego County expands bans on all gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic

The new directive means that gatherings of 10 people or less are no longer allowed in San Diego County, unless they live in same household.

SAN DIEGO — The County Wednesday expanded its Health Order to prohibit gatherings of any type, effective Thursday.

The new directive means that gatherings of 10 people or less are no longer allowed in San Diego County, unless they live in same household.

“We decided to extend the gathering restrictions because people were getting together in parks, beaches and other open spaces,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “People should stay at home and only go in public when doing essential activities, such as grocery shopping or going to the pharmacy.” 

The revised order also expands the requirement for employees of certain businesses to wear face coverings to banks, public transportation and child care providers that serve food. San Diegans are strongly encouraged to wear a facial covering while in public.

As of April 8, the County is also reporting five more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the region’s total to 36. Most of the people who have died had underlying medical conditions.

“COVID-19 deaths are very unfortunate, but more could occur as the number of positive cases increases,” Wooten said.

The news comes before Easter and Passover. Many religious leaders have already moved religious holiday services online. 

The County has released the age, gender and ethnic breakdown of COVID-19 deaths reported in the region. They were:

  • 15 White
  • 10 Hispanic
  • 2 Asian
  • 9 Unknown

Age breakdown is as follows:

  • 80 and older: 18
  • 70 to 79: 9
  • 60 to 69: 3
  • 50 to 59: 4
  • 20 to 29: 2

Gender breakdown:

  • 22 Men
  • 14 Women

Through April 8, a total of 1,530 COVID-19 cases have been reported in San Diego County, including 50 new cases in the last day. 

RELATED: San Diego County officials publish racial breakdown of local coronavirus cases, deaths

Use of Hydroxychloroquine

There are no drugs or therapy that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. However, on March 30, 2020, the FDA did issue an emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine in certain hospitalized patients.

While this is different than an FDA approval, it is a mechanism for medical providers to consider use of hydroxychloroquine in specific circumstances while they await the results of clinical trials using this drug. The decision to use the drug is up to the family of a patient in consultation with their medical provider.

Hydroxychloroquine is used to prevent or treat malaria, caused by mosquito bites. The medication is also used to treat certain auto-immune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

RELATED: Coronavirus in San Diego and California: Latest updates and news

RELATED: Self-employed struggle to find financial help during crisis

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View all News 8 coverage of coronavirus / COVID-19  
 
News 8 has joined forces with The San Diego Foundation to raise immediate, emergency funds for our most vulnerable neighbors in need. Here is how you can help.  

We also have a Frequently Asked Questions page we will continue updating with the latest information and reports.  

Click here to watch "Facts Not Fear," a News 8 Special on coronavirus from March 26, 2020. 

BACKGROUND

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 

Protect yourself 

  • 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 

Protect 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. 

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