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San Diego County to open up ocean access on Monday for swimming, surfing

102 people have died from COVID-19 in San Diego County.

SAN DIEGO — Dr. Wilma Wooten. Chairman Cox, Dr. Eric McDonald, and Supervisor Fletcher gave a COVID-19 update in San Diego County on Friday afternoon. You can watch the update here.

“Our long fight is not yet over,” said Cox.

Fletcher announced that the county is amending the public health order to allow people to go into the ocean starting Monday morning. This means people can kayak, swim, and surf. 

“[You] can’t sit, lay down, play volleyball, or engage in group activities,” said Fletcher.

However, this doesn't mean people in San Diego County can spend time on the sand. It's up to individual cities to decide if they want to open up the actual beach on Monday morning.

Fletcher said that piers and boardwalks will remain closed. Recreational boating is not allowed at the moment because it’s hard to social distance on a boat and ensure passengers all are from the same household, Fletcher said. 

This amendment doesn’t impact state parks and beaches. 

Fletcher announced a new countywide public health directive that people have to wear a face covering whenever they are within six feet of someone they don't live with. This goes into effect on May 1, but people are encouraged to start wearing a face covering as soon as possible.

Fletcher said the county is asking local jurisdictions to come up with a park plan by April 28 on how they can staff parks, sanitize parks, and modify restrictions safely in May. 

Wooten said the county will not open any cooling stations this weekend with the warm forecast on the horizon, but health officials are looking for a safe alternative, particularly in the county's desert communities. 

Fletcher announced 183 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday in San Diego County. 2,826 people have tested positive countywide, which is about 6% of people of that have been tested. Wooten announced two new deaths. One was a woman in her 40s and another was a women in her 60s. Both had underlying medical conditions. This means 102 people have died from COVID-19 in San Diego County. 

Fletcher said Supervisor Kristin Gaspar wrote a letter to Vice President Mike Pence asking for help and assistance on the U.S./Mexico border. Fletcher said he is not aware of a response to the letter as of Friday afternoon.

Cox, a Chula Vista native, is worried about the higher number of cases in Baja California and the impact it will have on Southern San Diego County. 

San Diego County is asking the state of California to work with Mexican authorities in a joint request to implement screenings and daily temperature checks for everyone crossing the border. Anyone with symptoms would be quarantined pending testing. The county has asked the federal government for a 14-day quarantine on any nonessential border crossings.

“We have an estimated 200,000 U.S. citizens that live in Northern Baja who routinely cross the border. This includes a fairly large number of essential workers,” said Fletcher. 

Parks in the city of Vista will reopen for "passive use" Friday, along with two popular walking paths in Encinitas, while anyone who visits an essential business in Chula Vista is now required to wear a face covering.

Parkgoers in Vista must practice physical distancing and will be limited to individual or household unit activities, such as walking, jogging or running. Dogs on leashes will be permitted.

Group activities and active sports will not be allowed, meaning athletic fields, skate parks, playgrounds, and all other areas related to group activities would remain closed until further notice.

The Encinitas Coastal Rail Trail and walking path on Highway 101 reopened Friday as well, but residents must maintain 6 feet of physical distance and face coverings are strongly recommended.

In the South Bay, restrictions are tightening.

National City ordered Tuesday that every person out in public is required to wear a facial covering. Chula Vista followed suit Thursday, requiring anyone at essential businesses to wear a face covering.

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