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San Diego County says staying home has saved thousands of lives

San Diego County has more than 5,000 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — At 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, San Diego County gave a live coronavirus update. You can watch the entire update here.

“We are making progress,” said Chairman Greg Cox. 

Cox said county offices will gradually begin to reopen starting on Friday, May 15. 

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher recognized that different communities in San Diego are being hit harder by the virus and will need certain resources. 

“Not every community is impacted the same,” said Fletcher. 

Fletcher said drive-thru graduation ceremonies and religious services are allowable as long they follow public health officer’s orders. These include no snack bars or concession stands, no restrooms, and only members of same household can be in same car. 

88,097 people have been tested for COVID-19 in San Diego County, with over 3,500 people tested on Tuesday, May 12, alone. 5,278 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in San Diego County total. 6% of those cases have been admitted to the ICU. 

194 people have died of COVID-19 in San Diego County. The county announced five deaths and clarified that a death announced yesterday was actually a duplicate, according to Dr. Wilma Wooten. 

These five new deaths were people that ranged in age from 56 to 97.

Dr. Eric McDonald said the most common underlying condition among people that have died of the virus is hypertension, both nationwide and countywide. 54% of the people who have died of COVID-19 in San Diego County had hypertension, followed by 36% that had Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Obesity is also a common underlying condition for people that have died from COVID-19. 

Despite the news of more deaths, the county said the health order has saved lives. 

“Had we not implemented the physical distancing or stay-at-home orders locally, many thousands more individuals, including elderly, would have died from COVID-19,” said Wooten.

“Often when prevention is done well, it is hard for people to feel or see the tangible benefits of these efforts,” said Wooten, echoing Dr. Sonia Y. Angell, the California Department of Public Health Director and State Health Officer.

Wooten said that county has documented 64 confirmed active outbreaks with 42 in congregate facilities. 

“We do not want to have a second wave,” said Wooten. 

Wooten said the county is concerned about plans for casinos to reopen in a few days.

Sycuan Casino Resort announced plans Tuesday to reopen at noon on May 20 with health and sanitation practices in place.

The reopening will take place two months to the hour since the resort was closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Bingo and poker will remain closed as part of the phased reopening. Restaurants will operate for limited hours and gaming areas will require appropriate spacing between players and staff. Tables games will be limited to a maximum of three players per table and every other slot machine will be turned off to further encourage space between players.

Patrons and staff will also be required to undergo temperature checks, wear masks at all times and practice physical distancing.

Viejas Casino & Resort announced plans last week to reopen on May 18.

Both casinos are on tribal land, meaning they are not subject to the same state regulations that have limited most business operations in California.

Wooten said there are no confirmed cases of pediatric Kawasaki disease in San Diego County. 

San Diego County has approved the opening of another round of businesses and services, following Gov. Gavin Newsom's guidance on reopening California's economy, as county officials reported 96 new COVID-19 cases and 15 additional deaths.

Office-based businesses are permitted to reopen, although Fletcher said county health officials still "strongly encourage telework."

Malls -- indoor, outdoor and strip malls -- are also allowed to reopen for curbside pickup and delivery only. No customers are allowed inside stores and outside pick up points should be clearly marked.

Other businesses or services able to open include car washes, pet grooming businesses, landscaping businesses and outdoor museums.

These businesses can open as soon as ready, but must first fill out the safe reopening plan located on the county's website.

All businesses must follow hygiene, physical distancing and health screening guidelines. Face coverings are also required for all employees, including employees in office settings.

Newsom released guidelines Tuesday for the state's restaurant industry to reopen safely. While there is no timeline attached to opening restaurants, the guidelines allow business owners to prepare for that day.

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