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Covid 19 in San Diego Live

Live Blog: San Diego County COVID-19 Cases Surpass 21,000

This is a breaking news blog for all of the latest updates about the coronavirus pandemic. Get our complete coronavirus coverage here →

San Diego County Reports 12 More COVID-19 Deaths; Officials Warn Of Health Effects

– 3:15 p.m., Wednesday, July 15, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 559 cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths from the illness Wednesday and a wave of indoor businesses were forced to close as cases of the illness continue to spike.

The new numbers raise the total number of cases to 21,446 and the number of deaths to 448. Of the 8,436 tests reported Wednesday, 7% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average to 7.2%.

Four new community outbreaks were reported Wednesday, bringing the weekly total to 14 — well above the county's metric of no more than seven in a one-week span. The new outbreaks were reported in a laboratory, hair salon, barber shop and restaurant/bar.

A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households.

Of the total positive cases, 2,093 — or 9.8% — have been hospitalized and 546 — or 2.5% — of cases have been admitted to an intensive care unit.

About 147.2 of every 100,000 San Diegans are testing positive for the illness, well above the state's criterion of 100 per 100,000 and the highest daily rate since the pandemic began.

The last metric the county has failed to maintain is the percentage of cases that have been handled by a contact investigator. Although there are more than 500 investigators currently employed by the county and 98% of all cases had been investigated as recently as June 25, that rate has dropped to a dismal 46%.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the San Diego County's public health officer, said as a response to these flagging rates, the county is attempting to hire more contact investigators. In just a three hour period after the job posting went online, more than 300 applications came in.

The number of cases continues to rise in people between the ages of 20 and 49 and particularly in people in their 20s, prompting the county to make efforts at educating younger people. — City News Service

Del Mar Cancels Weekend Racing Due To COVID-19 Among Jockeys

– 3:23 p.m., July 15, 2020

Del Mar canceled racing for the upcoming weekend after 15 jockeys tested positive for COVID-19.

All the track’s riders and personnel who work in the jockeys’ room were tested by San Diego County public health officials at the request of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Of the 15 positive tests, all were believed to be asymptomatic.

"Canceling this weekend’s races will give us additional time to monitor the situation and give the individuals who tested positive additional time to recover,” track CEO Joe Harper said Wednesday.

Contact tracing procedures are underway. All but one of the riders who tested positive rode at the recently concluded Los Alamitos meet in Orange County. The mass testing was ordered by the track after jockeys Flavien Prat and Victor Espinoza tested positive. They are both quarantining at home. – Associated Press

WATCH: County Public Health Officials Give Update On Coronavirus Pandemic

– 2:30 p.m., July 15, 2020

Poway Letting Fitness Groups, Churches To Use Parks During Closures

– 1:55 p.m., July 15, 2020

The Poway City Council Wednesday approved the temporary use of public parks for local fitness groups and worship activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a brief meeting, the council unanimously directed city staff to prepare applications for groups to use open space in the city's parks free of charge and with minimal paperwork.

Poway Mayor Steve Vaus proposed the Sharing Outdoor Space Initiative after the state of California on Monday issued an order requiring all houses of worship, gyms and other fitness organizations to stop all indoor activities until further notice to lessen the spread of the coronavirus.

The city will require that it be named as an "additional insured" on the organization's policy and "that all COVID-19 safety guidelines be adhered to, including rules regarding face coverings and social distancing."

The SOS Initiative is one of several actions the city has taken to help local businesses, including a moratorium on commercial evictions to help those affected by the virus' effect on the economy. — City News Service

Rite Aid Opening Five Drive-Through COVID-19 Testing Sites In San Diego County

— 1:11 p.m., July 15, 2020

Rite Aid is expanding its COVID-19 testing capacity with 161 new drive-through testing locations opening Thursday, including five in San Diego County.

Testing will be available by appointment for people 18 years of age or older, regardless of whether the person is experiencing symptoms, according to Rite Aid. Results are expected in three to five days, a company spokesperson said.

County locations providing testing starting Thursday are:

— 1665 Alpine Boulevard in Alpine;

— 1331 South Mission Road in Fallbrook;

— 7224 Broadway in Lemon Grove;

— 1201 South Coast Highway in Oceanside;

— and 28535 Cole Grade Road in Valley Center. — City News Service

SD Council Approves Mayor's Plan to Expand Street Restaurants, Retail

– 4:55 p.m., July 14, 2020

The San Diego City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to support Mayor Kevin Faulconer's plan to expand outdoor dining and retail options during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The vote follows Faulconer's July 7 executive order that waived requirements for the temporary use of sidewalks and private parking lots as outdoor dining and retail venues to increase space for physical distancing. Tuesday's vote allows businesses to use adjacent on-street parking to operate while also waiving a majority of permitting fees.

"Our local restaurant and retail owners have shown incredible resolve and resilience throughout this pandemic. Many of those small businesses have been among the hardest hit and San Diegans are ready to support them safely and responsibly," Faulconer said. "The response we've seen to outdoor dining has been overwhelmingly positive, and this ordinance opens up so many more options for our small businesses as they work hard to rebound and recover."

The plan is expected to impact up to 4,000 restaurants in San Diego that employ more than 55,000 individuals.

Previously, securing an outdoor sidewalk cafe permit could cost businesses more than $1,000 and take several months to process. This ordinance will help reduce applicant costs and the review process. — City News Service

Indoor Operations to Halt at Midnight at Various S.D. County Businesses

– 4:30 p.m., July 14, 2020

San Diego County reported 539 new COVID-19 cases and 14 additional deaths Tuesday, as indoor operations at various businesses throughout the county prepared to close at midnight.

The new data raise the region's totals to 20,887 cases and 436 deaths. Of the 7,246 tests reported Tuesday, 7% returned positive, slightly above the county's rolling 14-day positive test average of 6.2%.

Of the 14 deaths, six were women and eight men. They died between July 2 and July 13 and ranged in age from mid-40s to late 80s. All but one had underlying medical conditions.

Three new community outbreaks were reported Tuesday, bringing the weekly total to 15 -- still well above the county's metric of no more than seven in a one-week span. The new outbreaks were reported in a restaurant/bar, place of worship and a private residence.

A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households.

Following Gov. Gavin Newsom's updated health order Monday, all indoor operations will halt at midnight Tuesday in gyms, houses of worship, non- critical office businesses, hair salons and barber shops, indoor malls and personal care services, such as massage businesses and tattoo parlors.

Of the total positive cases, 2,073 or 9.9% have been hospitalized and 541 or 2.6% of cases have been admitted to an intensive care unit.

About 137 of every 100,000 San Diegans are testing positive for the illness, well above the state's criterion of 100 per 100,000. Total COVID-19 hospitalizations have inched up over the last several weeks and now sit at 467,159, of which 159 are in intensive care units. — City News Service

San Diego County COVID-19 Cases Rise To 20,348

The number of COVID-19 cases in San Diego County passed 20,000 Monday as health officials prepared for major changes in the way the region will handle the pandemic.

The number of cases is now at 20,348 and the death toll remains at 422 countywide. Of the 6,542 tests reported Monday, 6% returned positive, in line with the 14-day rolling average.

Following Gov. Gavin Newsom's updated health order Monday, all indoor operations in gyms, houses of worship, non-critical office businesses, hair salons and barber shops, indoor malls and personal care services such as massage businesses and tattoo parlors will need to cease at midnight Tuesday.

Additionally, the smoke from the fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego could cause potential health problems for those most susceptible to COVID-19, including the elderly and those with heart or lung conditions, health officials said. Supervisor Nathan Fletcher asked residents who smell smoke or experience eye irritation to remain indoors with doors and windows closed and to avoid strenuous exercise.

Nick Macchione, San Diego County's director of the Health and Human Services Agency offered some more bad news Monday when he reported the county's COVID-19 testing capacity was stretched to its limit. Local biotechnology company Helix did announce a partnership with the county to provide 2,000 tests a day with a 24-hour turnaround for the foreseeable future, but supplies both locally and nationally remain critically low.

– 2:30 p.m., Monday, July 13, 2020

Newsom Orders Closure Of Indoor Activity At Gyms, Salons, Churches

– 12:00 p.m., Monday, July 13, 2020

Citing rising rates of people testing positive for the coronavirus and jumps in hospitalizations, Gov. Gavin Newsom today ordered the closure of indoor operations at gyms, hair salons, houses of worship, personal-care services, malls and non-critical office settings.

The order affects all 30 counties on the state's pandemic monitoring list — including San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties.

Newsom also ordered the statewide closure of indoor operations at restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, zoos, aquariums, family entertainment centers and card rooms — and the full closure of all bars. Those restrictions were already in place in counties on the state's monitoring list, but the new order extended them statewide.

Newsom reiterated that the state's enactment of health-restrictions was being handled with a "dimmer switch," meaning the severity of the orders can be adjusted upward or downward based on the latest virus statistics and "trendlines."

The state has been seeing record numbers of infections in recent days, along with increasing hospitalizations. As of Monday, Newsom said 6,485 were hospitalized across the state due to the coronavirus. The seven-day rolling average of people testing positive for the virus was 7.7%, Newsom said.

"This virus is not going away anytime soon," Newsom said. "I hope all of us recognize that if we were still connected to some notion that somehow when it gets warm it's going to go away or somehow it's going to take summer months or weekends off, this virus has done neither. You've seen parts of the country with very hot ... weather where you're seeing an increase in positivity rates, an increase in hospitalizations and ICUs. Here in the state of California as we're seeing triple-digit weather in many parts of our state, we're still seeing an increase in the positivity rate, the community transmission. We're seeing an increase in the spread of the virus."

– City News Service

San Diego Unified Cites ‘Skyrocketing Infection’ In Decision To Remain Closed, Classes To Stay Online

– 11:22 a.m., Monday, July 13, 2020

San Diego Unified School District campuses will remain closed when the district resumes classes Aug. 31, with all courses remaining online only, the district announced Monday.

The decision was made due to a lack of complete guidelines for safely reopening the campuses amid the pandemic, the district said in a press release.

"Unfortunately, much of the research is incomplete and many of the guidelines are vague and contradictory,” the statement reads. “One fact is clear: those countries that have managed to safely reopen schools have done so with declining infection rates and on-demand testing available. California has neither. The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control."

Here is the district's reopening plan for the fall:

– The school year will resume on schedule.

– Teachers will receive expanded training in online education to better meet the needs of students.

– Students will receive additional training at the start of the year to become better online learners.

– Online support for parents will be increased to make it easier for them to participate in the education of their students.

– Principals will continue customized planning for the safest possible reopening this fall.

– Free meals will continue to be provided at the current distribution stations.

– KPBS Staff

San Diego County Reports 558 New COVID-19 Cases

– 5:13 p.m., July 12, 2020

San Diego County health officials have reported 558 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths, raising the region's totals to 19,929 cases and the death count remaining at 422.

Of the 8,505 tests reported Saturday, 7% were positive new cases. The 14-day rolling average for positive tests is 6.1%. The target is less than 8%. The 7-day daily average of tests is 7,853.

Of the total positive cases, 2,036 or 10.2% have been hospitalized and 535 or 2.7% of cases have been admitted to an intensive care unit.

Two new community outbreaks, one in a healthcare setting and the other in a restaurant-bar, were reported Saturday, bringing the total over the past week to 18, more than double the trigger of seven or more in seven days. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and people from different households. – City News Service

More Than 500 New COVID-19 Cases Reported, Two Deaths

– 4:45 p.m., July 11, 2020

San Diego County health officials have reported 508 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths Saturday, raising the region's totals to 19,371 cases and 422 deaths.

Two women died, one on July 8, the other died on July 9, officials said. Their ages ranged from early 70s to mid-80s. Both had existing chronic conditions.

Of the 8,292 tests reported Friday, 6% were positive new cases. The 14- day rolling average for positive tests is 6%. The target is less than 8%. The 7-day daily average of tests is 7,795. – City News Service

COVID-19 Cases Continue To Rise In San Diego County

– 4:00 p.m., Friday, July 10, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 461 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths Friday, raising the region's totals to 18,863 cases and 420 deaths.

Four men and one woman died on July 8. Their ages ranged from the late 60s to 100 and all had underlying health conditions.

Of the 8,423 tests reported Friday, 5% were positive. The 14-day rolling average for positive tests is now 5.9% and the average daily number of tests reported over the past week is 7,656. A total of 419,867 tests have been completed in the county.

Of the total positive cases, 2,002 or 10.6% have been hospitalized and 529 or 2.8% of cases have been admitted to an intensive care unit.

An additional three community outbreaks were reported Friday, bringing the total over the past week to 18, more than double the county's metric of seven community-based outbreaks in a week's span. A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting from different households.

The outbreaks were traced to a business, restaurant and healthcare setting.

More than 75% of the community outbreaks have been traced to restaurants and bars, and 45 community outbreaks remain active, tied to 137 cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday's data.

An additional 23 outbreaks have been traced to skilled nursing facilities and 27 to other nursing facilities.

– City News Service

Total County COVID-19 Cases Cross 18,000 As Daily Count Reaches 500 Again

San Diego County public health officials reported 560 new COVID-19 cases and nine deaths Thursday, raising the county's totals to 18,402 cases and 415 deaths.

Of the 8,950 tests reported Wednesday, 6% returned positive. A total of 411,444 tests have been completed in the county. An average of 7,497 tests have been reported in the last week, and the 14-day rolling average for tests returning positive is 6%.

Of the nine people whose deaths were reported Thursday, five were men and four women. They died between June 27 and July 7 and ranged in age from 50 to 89. All but one had underlying medical conditions.

A record-high 578 cases, a 10% positive test rate and 12 deaths were reported Tuesday. – City News Service

State Announces New Procedures, Equipment For Fighting Wildfires During COVID-19

– 1:54 p.m., July 9, 2020

The state has procured new equipment, technology and procedures for suppressing wildfires during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday.

Despite California’s $54 billion budget deficit, the state was able to make investments in new fire fighting equipment and personnel, he said. Some investments include: $285 million in Black Hawk helicopters, $5 million for 180 wildfire cameras, $25 million for an innovation sprint for new technology, and $85.6 million in a new, permanent workforce for Cal Fire.

There would be fewer California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation fire crews on the ground this year, Newsom said, because of some being exposed to COVID-19 or testing positive for the virus. Of the 192 CDCR crews, 94 are currently available.

WATCH: Gov. Newsom to give update on state's wildfire preparedness amid COVID-19 pandemic

The number of California Conservation Corps fire crews would also be fewer, but not as impacted as CDCR crews, Newsom said.

Any future evacuations of the public related to wildfires will be different because of the coronavirus pandemic. Potential shelters related to wildfire evacuations might be in hotels instead of traditional shelters.

Temperature checks and mask wearing will be required, said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Office of Emergency Services. Social distancing procedures will be in place and military field rations, such as meals ready to eat (MRE) instead of buffet style feeding.

New procedures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus among Cal Fire staff will be implemented as well, officials announced. This includes social distancing for mealtimes and increased PPE.

Cal Fire chief Thom Porter also asked the public to do their part and wear masks during evacuations to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Newsom also announced the state would have increased oversight of Pacific Gas & Electric, whose neglect in maintaining transmission towers contributed to the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in the state to date.

Photo caption:

Photo by Cal Fire

Cal Fire chief Thom Porter provides an update on the state's plans for fight wildfires during the coronavirus pandemic. July 9, 2020.

The utility company was able to come out of bankruptcy July 1, he said, with “new accountability.” This includes increased vegetation management to mitigate fires and underground wires. In addition, 11 of the 14 PG&E board members have been replaced, the governor said.

PG&E pleaded guilty in June to 84 separate counts of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of unlawfully starting a fire in a case stemming from the 2018 conflagration that burned down the town of Paradise in Northern California.

As of Thursday morning, there were 7,031 new cases of COVID-19 in California and both a 7.3% positivity rate for the 7-day and 14-day averages, Newsom said. Hospitalizations went up 0.4% Wednesday with ICU going down 0.1%. –Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

San Diego County Reports 264 New COVID-19 Cases, 7 New Deaths

– 4:01 p.m., July 8, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 264 new COVID-19 cases and seven new deaths Wednesday, for a total of 17,842 cases and 406 deaths.

Three community outbreaks became inactive, but five new outbreaks have been reported, for a total of 24 active outbreaks in seven days, said Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s public health officer. The new outbreaks occurred in a restaurant, a health care facility, a gym, a daycare, and a resort/spa.

San Diego County Health Officials Give Update On COVID-19, July 8, 2020

Hospitalizations are increasing in San Diego County, Wooten said, but the number of ICU patients has remained consistent. COVID-19-related ICU hospitalizations currently total 166.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said 7,607 tests conducted Tuesday, which he noted is slightly above the seven-day average of 7,434 daily tests.

Board of Supervisors chairman Greg Cox said the Board voted Tuesday on a spending plan for $48.8 million in COVID-relief funds. The plan includes $25 million for child care providers and $5 million for testing in public schools. The remaining $18.8 million is expected to fund possible testing at the border and food services, which may include an expansion of a senior meal program.

Cox said that the funding will be split between each county district, which will decide where money will be allocated within the district. – Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

State Adds Yolo, Napa, and San Benito Counties To State’s Watchlist

– 1:35 p.m., July 8, 2020

Three more counties were added to the state’s watchlist: Yolo, Napa and San Benito, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday. There are now a total 26 counties on the list, including San Diego, which was added Monday.

There were a total of 11,694 COVID-19 case numbers reported in the state Tuesday and a 7.1% positivity rate over a 14-day period, Newsom said. The higher than usual case number was because this included a backlog of tests reported from labs in Los Angeles County, he said. Other states had seen higher positivity rates, but Newsom noted California’s is still concerning.

COVID-19 ICU admissions are increasing in California. Hospitalizations are 44% over the last two weeks, Newsom said. There are currently 1,753 ICU admissions and 3,908 ICU beds available for a total of 11,313 ICU and NICU beds in California.

Photo caption:

Photo by Office of the Governor of California

Twenty-six counties were added to California's watch list, Gov. Newsom announced Wednesday. July 8, 2020.

Hospitalizations are still only at 8% capacity, but that could change, the governor said.

“We’re preparing to surge, we’re going to surge differently this time,” said Carmela Coyle, the head of the California Hospital Association.

The hospitals are looking to use new therapeutics instead of putting more patients on ventilators, she said. One of these includes remdesivir, which has been shown to reduce hospital stays for COVID-19 patients.

The main drivers of recent COVID-19 hospitalizations are not enough people wearing masks and physical distancing, increased mixing of households, prison and jail outbreaks, and essential workplace outbreaks, Newsom said. – Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

Mayor Faulconer Signs Order Waiving Outdoor Permits

– 4:30 p.m., July 7, 2020

With indoor dining prohibited at San Diego County restaurants in response to a spike in local COVID-19 cases, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer signed an emergency executive order Tuesday waiving permits and other regulatory requirements, allowing restaurants to expand their services onto outdoor spaces like sidewalks and private parking lots.

WATCH here:

Indoor dining will be closed for at least the next three weeks after the county remained on the state's monitoring list for three consecutive days, leading all indoor operations to be halted at a variety of businesses, including restaurants, where county health officials say many of the recent outbreaks occurred.

Faulconer said his executive order — which goes into effect immediately — gives restaurants the ability to create sidewalk cafes without a permit and use their parking lots for outdoor dining. Enforcement of municipal codes that would typically prohibit such operations will be suspended. *— City News Service

Museum Of Photographic Arts To Close Until After Labor Day

– 4:20 p.m., July 7, 2020

Just days after reopening for the July Fourth weekend, the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts announced Tuesday it would close until after Labor Day.

Museums were among those businesses told to halt indoor activities by the state and by local health authorities Monday. Although the updated public health order is theoretically in place for just three weeks, a museum statement cited the "uncertainty" of the coming weeks as the reason for the lengthy closure.

"MOPA supports all efforts to control the spread of COVID. Our top priority is the health of our MOPA team, patrons and visitors," said Deborah Klochko, executive director and chief curator at MOPA. "Although our galleries are closed, there are multiple ways for us to stay connected online. Find us online and learn with MOPA. Our philosophy is allowing people to deal critically with photos, video and the rest of the visual world."

The museum initially shuttered in March with other museums in Balboa Park and the rest of San Diego County. — City News Service

Amid Restaurant Shutdowns, Faulconer to Sign Order Waiving Outdoor Permits

– 11: 34 a.m., July 7, 2020

With county restaurants shuttered for indoor dining in response to a spike in local COVID-19 cases, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he will sign an emergency executive order Tuesday that will waive regulatory requirements, allowing restaurants to expand their service into outdoor spaces.

Indoor dining will be closed for at least the next three weeks after the county remained on the state's monitoring list for three consecutive days, leading all indoor operations to be halted at a variety of businesses, including restaurants, where county health officials say many of the recent outbreaks occurred.

– City News Service

San Diego County Health Officials Give Update On COVID-19

10:38 a.m., Tuesday, July 7, 2020

WATCH LIVE here:

– KPBS Staff

County Orders Certain Businesses To Close Again To Stem Virus Spread

– 2:45 p.m., Monday, July 6, 2020

The San Diego County on Monday announced the closure of all indoor activities at a number of establishments for three weeks to comply with the state’s order to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Earlier Monday, San Diego was among five counties added to the state watch list because the case rate exceeded 100 per 100,000 for three consecutive days. San Diego was placed on the state’s monitoring list on Friday.

WATCH LIVE here:

“The number continues to go in the wrong direction,” Supervisor Greg Cox said. The county reported more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases over the holiday weekend.

At midnight Monday night, the following businesses must close all indoor activities:

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Wineries and tasting rooms
  • Movie theaters
  • Family entertainment centers (bowling alleys, miniature golf, arcades, etc.)
  • Zoos and museums
  • Card rooms

Outdoor activities, such as outdoor dining, are still permitted at these establishments.

On Monday, the county also reported 274 new cases for a total of 17,000 cases since the pandemic began. There were no new deaths reported. — Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer

San Diego Placed On State’s Watch List

– 12:35 p.m., Monday, July 6, 2020

San Diego County was placed on the state’s watch list Monday, along with five other counties including Calusa, Madera, Marin, Merced and Monterey.

As of Monday, San Diego had a case rate of 129.3, according to data released by the state.

WATCH LIVE here:

Counties on the state’s watch list will need to shut down the following businesses for three weeks unless they can modify their operations to outdoors or for pick-up only:

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Wineries and tasting rooms
  • Movie theaters
  • Family entertainment centers (bowling alleys, miniature golf, arcades, etc.)
  • Zoos and museums
  • Card rooms

Bars must close all operations.

San Diego was placed on the state’s monitoring list Friday because the case rate per 100,000 people in a two-week period was in excess of 100. Counties are placed on the state’s watch list if they are on the monitoring list for three or more days.

County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said she expected the county to be placed on the watch list on Monday because of the increase in the number of positive cases in the county of late.

Sunday, the county reported 1,030 new positive COVID-19 cases over the holiday weekend.

— Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer

San Diego City Says Not Given Enough Notice From State To Close July Fourth Beach Parking

–3:20 p.m., Saturday, July 4, 2020

San Diego's Chief Operating Officer Kris Michell said in a statement Saturday that California officials didn't give the city enough time to put in place a beach parking lot shutdown for the Fourth.

"The city of San Diego is closely following county guidance and working with health officials to encourage adherence to public health regulations,'' Michell said. "The request to regional coastal cities to close beach parking lots on the Fourth of July came last night just a few hours before the start of the holiday, leaving little time to enact, enforce or notify the public.”

The cities of Carlsbad and Oceanside said Saturday they are complying with the emergency services request. In addition to closing its beach parking lots, Carlsbad lifeguards and police officers will be providing masks to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 on the city-owned beach, north of Oak Avenue to the Oceanside border.

Imperial Beach, Coronado, Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas officials said Saturday their beach parking lots remain open. –City News Service

State Asks City Managers To Close Beach Parking Lots For July Fourth

–11:31 a.m., Saturday, July 4, 2020

On Friday, the California Office of Emergency Services sent a letter to the city managers of San Diego, Imperial Beach, Coronado, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside imploring them to also close their beach parking lots.

"By keeping parking lots closed, we can help limit beach access in San Diego to San Diegans only, to protect the health of residents and reduce the high likelihood of disease transmission in surrounding San Diego restaurants, bars, and businesses. Closure of beach parking lots could discourage day-trips from other communities.''

The city of Carlsbad signaled its compliance with the request. In addition to closing its beach parking lots, lifeguards and police officers will be providing masks to help reduce spread of COVID-19 on the city-owned beach, north of Oak Avenue to the Oceanside border.

Imperial Beach, Coronado, Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas officials said Saturday their beach parking lots remain open. San Diego city officials have not responded to requests for information on any possible beach parking lot closures, but lifeguard and police officials said Saturday morning they haven't heard of any requests to close parking lots on the Fourth of July. –City News Service

San Diego County Placed On State’s COVID-19 Monitoring List

–5:02 p.m., Friday, July 3, 2020

San Diego County was placed on the state's COVID-19 monitoring list Friday afternoon, which could lead to closures or new restrictions on businesses following the Fourth of July weekend.

County health officials said the rate of COVID-19 cases in the region surpassed the state's threshold of no more than 100 positive cases per 100,000 residents. The county reported a rate of 112.8 positive cases per 100,000 residents Thursday, a number that has increased from 103.8 per 100,000 just three days prior.

Now on the state's monitoring list, several businesses could be forced to change the way they do business indoors by as early as Tuesday, and restrictions would remain in place for a minimum of three weeks. Businesses affected include restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, cardrooms, family entertainment centers, museums and zoos.

The number of local cases has now reached 15,696, and the 489 cases reported Friday is the sixth time in a week the number of daily cases have been more than 400. Of the 7,307 tests reported Friday, 7% returned positive. The 14- day rolling average of positive tests is 5.3%.

An additional 10 people — six women and four men — have died from COVID-19, raising the county's total to 387. All of the them had underlying conditions and ranged in ages from mid-50s to late 90s.

No new community outbreaks were reported Friday, lowering the one-week count to 21. The county is still well over the limit of seven, which San Diego County set for itself. –City News Service

San Diego Reports Record Number Of New COVID-19 Cases, Added To State Watchlist

– 3:45 p.m., Thursday, July 2, 2020

San Diego County recorded a record number of new COVID-19 cases Thursday and will be added to the state’s monitoring list, which is expected to result in new restrictions on businesses starting next week.

County health officials reported 10 new outbreaks, eight of which were traced to bars or restaurants, one to a grocery store and one to a business.

A record 584 new cases were reported, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases to 15,207. Five more people have died from the virus, for a regional total of 377 coronavirus related deaths.

About 12% of all cases have required hospitalization and 3.3% of cases have had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

In the past three days, San Diego County's rate of COVID-19 cases went from 103.8 per 100,000 people to 112.8, which exceeds the state's threshold for no more than 100 cases per 100,000.

The county expects to remain on the state's watchlist for at least the next three days and the region could implement more restrictive measures and additional closures to slow the spread of the virus.

Businesses on the state’s list should prepare to close or modify their operations since new restrictions could be effective as early as July 7 and would last for three weeks.

Indoor activities could be restricted for the following businesses:

– Dine-in restaurants

– Wineries and tasting rooms

– Movie theaters, family entertainment centers and cardrooms

– Museums and zoos

– KPBS News Staff

San Diego County Opens a New Free COVID-19 Testing Site in National City

—2:17 p.m. July 2, 2020

San Diego County has opened a new free COVID-19 testing site at the Tubman-Chavez Community Center in National City.

The testing center is open seven days a week (except for July Fourth) and no appointments are necessary. In a statement, the County advised people seeking tests to arrive between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Tests take 5 to 10 minutes and wait times will vary. Testing is limited to 150 people a day.

The Tubman-Chavez Community Center used to be the location of a state testing site. That has been relocated to the Kimball Senior Center. Open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., appointments are required. — Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

California Governor Urges People To Avoid Holiday Gatherings

–2 p.m., Thursday, July 2, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday urged Californians to turn to their “better angels” and use common sense over the holiday weekend by wearing a mask and skipping traditional gatherings with family and friends.

“We're not going into everybody's backyard and enforcing," he said. “We're just encouraging people to be safe, to be thoughtful about themselves and others."

He also announced a new public awareness campaign, involving billboards, TV and radio ads in multiple languages, urging Californians to follow the state's mandate to wear a face covering.

One ad shows a person breathing on a ventilator with a mask that reads: “Even without symptoms, you can spread COVID-19. And people can die. People like your mom."

The ads are starting in English and Spanish and will eventually run in seven languages. The effort also includes social media ads and will focus specifically on Black and Latino communities, which are being disproportionately impacted by the virus.

Previous awareness campaigns by the state featured prominent celebrities such as Larry David and Julia Louis-Dreyfus urging people to stay home and practice social distancing.

The new campaign is funded in part by Silicon Valley groups and philanthropists, including Tom Steyer, a former Democratic presidential candidate and head of Newsom's Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery. — Associated Press

–KPBS Staff

San Diego County Close To Being On State’s Warning List

– 5:15 p.m., Wednesday, July 1, 2020

San Diego County officials on Wednesday announced they expect the state to force some local businesses to roll back reopening as the region’s COVID-19 activity continues to grow.

"If your car is speeding down the road toward a cliff, you hit the break,” Supervisor Greg Cox said. “We're hitting the brakes."

The county earlier this week announced local restrictions on bars and restaurants but it recently exceeded one of the six metrics monitored by the state, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said. If the county exceeds any of the state’s metrics, the county will be flagged by the state for mitigation measures, County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said.

Of the six categories, San Diego has had more than 100 case-rate per 100,000 residents for the past two days. Wooten said if that trend continues, San Diego will be placed on the state’s watch list by July 3.

If the county remains on the watch list for three consecutive days, Wooten said the region will face the rollback measures announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier Wednesday. Newsom ordered 19 counties to shutter indoor operations at certain businesses that include restaurants, wineries and family entertainment venues, such as bowling alleys.

There were 474 new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday out of 7,825 tests for a positive rate of 6%. The county’s total increase to 14,623. Officials reported an additional seven deaths, bringing that tally to 372.

Also on Wednesday, the county reached two of its own local metrics to track COVID activity.

Wooten reported 13 community outbreaks in the previous seven days, which is 6 more than the threshold. She also noted a decline in the percentage of COVID cases the county began investigating within 24 hours over the last seven days. The goal is 70%, but that figure dipped to 69%. — Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer, Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

Counties Neighboring San Diego Must Close Bars, Restaurants And Other Indoor Operations, Governor Says

– 12:45 p.m., Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday ordered 19 California counties, including four neighboring counties to San Diego, to close indoor operations of specific businesses to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19.

He also announced that state beaches will close parking this upcoming Fourth of July weekend.

Governor Gavin Newsom provides an update on the state’s response to COVID-19.

The total counties impacted are Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Merced, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare and Ventura.

Types of businesses impacted are: restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums and cardrooms.

The state has identified these businesses as those that are at higher risk for COVID-19 spread. These businesses, however, will be allowed to operate in outdoor facilities as indoor air flow makes for higher risk of transmission, Newsom said.

Casinos on sovereign tribal land and the state are in “deep conversations” for continuing their operations, he said.

Photo caption:

Photo by Courtesy of California Governor's Office

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered 19 counties to close indoor operations of certain businesses in California, July 1, 2020.

Newsom also announced parking at state beaches in Southern California and the Bay Area will close this weekend. The move comes after Los Angeles and Ventura counties decided to close their local beaches for the July Fourth holiday. In counties where local beaches are closed, state beaches will also be closed, he said.

Other state parks will remain open with measures in place to reduce visitation and limit overcrowding.

Newsom also announced the state will form multi-agency strike teams to crack down on businesses that are operating in violation of health orders. The agencies include the California Highway Patrol, Department of Consumer Affairs and Depart of Business Oversight. The goal is to get voluntary compliance from business owners. – Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

San Diego County Orders Restaurants That Serve Alcohol To Close By 10 p.m. Daily

– 2:50 p.m., Tuesday, June 30, 2020

San Diego County officials Tuesday ordered all bars that don’t serve food to close indefinitely and all restaurants that serve alcohol need to close by 10 p.m. daily amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases.

The order for restaurants goes into effect Wednesday.

The move comes a day after the county issued an order for all bars, breweries and wineries that don't have a license to serve food to close their businesses by midnight Tuesday night.

Health officials reported 317 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the county total to 14,149 and 4 more deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 365.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said bars, restaurants and private residences make up the largest source, 40%, of recent community outbreaks. He noted that all community outbreaks have originated at an indoor setting. – KPBS Staff

Newsom To 'Tighten Things Up' As Coronavirus Cases Rise

– 12 p.m., Tuesday, June 30, 2020

With coronavirus cases surging, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that he plans to “tighten things up" when it comes to the state's stay-at-home order ahead of a busy Fourth of July weekend.

California has confirmed close to 223,000 infections, a nearly 50% increase over two weeks ago that's been driven in part by the state's ability to now test more than 100,000 people per day. But more concerning to officials is the steady growth in COVID-19 hospitalizations — a 43% increase in the past two weeks.

Officials in Los Angeles County on Monday announced they will close beaches and ban fireworks displays in the nation's most populous county this weekend as it hit a one-day record of 2,903 confirmed cases and more than 100,000 overall. And in the Central Valley, officials in Fresno ordered all bars to close.

WATCH here:

“Our cases are not currently under control,” said Dr. Rais Vohra, interim health officer for Fresno County.

Newsom has asked Imperial County to impose more restrictions after hospitals in the county near the U.S.-Mexico border had so many patients they had to transfer some to nearby facilities. But Newsom has mostly tried to let local governments decide for themselves what restrictions they should put in place.

That strategy could change Wednesday, when Newsom plans to issue new restrictions. The Democratic governor did not say what they would be, other than that he would “tighten things up.” He said people are more likely to get sick when they are indoors compared with outdoors, saying he will look at public health orders “in relationship to indoor vs. outdoor activities.” Associated Press

San Diego Orders All Bars, Wineries, Breweries That Don’t Serve Food To Close

– 2:45 p.m., Monday, June 29, 2020

In response to the rising number of new COVID-19 cases in San Diego, the county on Monday announced it’s dialing back some reopenings and putting a pause on future reopenings.

Effective midnight Tuesday, the county will close all bars, wineries and breweries that do not have a license to serve food. Over the weekend Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered bars in several counties to close, including Los Angeles and Imperial counties. San Diego was not part of that list.

“We don’t want to wait to be forced to take an action when we know it is wise for us to do so,” Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said.

WATCH LIVE here:

He also clarified people can consume alcohol in restaurants as part of their meals, just by itself.

Dialing back on these reopenings is meant to slow the spread to a point where the county can avoid a total lockdown as seen in March, Fletcher said.

The county is also pausing any future reopenings until August 1, Supervisor Greg Cox said.

Also on Monday, the county reported 498 new COVID-19 cases, a new single-day record and one more than the previous single-day record announced Sunday, and no new deaths.

In the coming days, the county will announce additional changes to the public health orders, Fletcher said. — Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer

WATCH: Gov. Newsom Gives Update On State's Response To Coronavirus Outbreak

– 12 p.m., Monday, June 29, 2020

WATCH LIVE here:

San Diego Blood Bank Starts COVID-19 Antibody Tests Today To Identify Plasma Donors

– 11:55 a.m., Monday, June 29, 2020

The San Diego Blood Bank announced Monday that from now through the end of July, it will test all blood donations for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, the virus that causes the COVID-19.

The blood bank will use the results of those tests to help identify potential convalescent plasma donors.

The test detects if a person's immune system has developed antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, regardless of whether he or she showed symptoms. However, it's not a diagnostic test and will not detect active infections or recent exposure.

Donors who are found positive for SARS-CoV-2 will be able to donate COVID-19 convalescent plasma the next time they donate. The plasma is being used to treat critically ill coronavirus patients. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports Record 497 New COVID-19 Cases, One New Death

— 3:45 p.m., Sunday, June 28, 2020

San Diego County reported 497 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the highest daily tally of cases in the county since the pandemic began.

County officials also reported one death, bringing the total number of deaths to 361.

Of the 8,301 tests reported on Saturday, 6.1% were positive, officials said. The rolling 14-day positivity rate for San Diego County is 3.9%.

Of the 13,334 cases reported in the county thus far, 13.1% of those people have been admitted to the hospital and 3.6% ended up in the intensive care unit.

San Diego County has also reported eight new community outbreaks over the past seven days, which puts it above the outbreak threshold established by the county. Seven or more outbreaks within seven days could mean county officials pause or dial back reopenings. — KPBS Social Media Strategist Laura McVicker

Gov. Gavin Newsom Orders Bars in Some California Counties to Close

— 1:10 p.m., Sunday, June 28, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday ordered bars that have opened in seven California counties to immediately close and urged bars in eight other counties to do the same, saying the coronavirus was rapidly spreading in some parts of the state.

The counties under the mandatory bar closure order are: Los Angeles, Fresno, San Joaquin, Kings, Kern, Imperial and Tulare.

State officials asked eight other counties — Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Stanislaus — to issue local health orders closing bars.

Imperial County, just east of San Diego County, has been the slowest county in the state to open, as it has grappled with high positivity rates. Newsom on Friday urged the county to reinstate its stay-at-home order to slow the rapid spread of the virus there. — Associated Press. KPBS contributed to this report.

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