5 New Positive Coronavirus Cases In San Diego County; Public Health Order Issued
‘Community Spread Likely’ In San Diego; Large Gatherings Banned
Friday, March 13, 2020
Photo by Andrew Bowen
UPDATE: 6:41 a.m., March 13, 2020:
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The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a virus that can infect animals and humans. It causes a range of respiratory illness, fever, cough and in more severe cases can cause pneumonia and even death.
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There are now five new presumptive confirmed coronavirus cases in San Diego County, according to the County Health and Human Services department, and it's likely that community spread has occurred.
On Wednesday, there was only one presumptive case. The new cases brought the region's total to six.
“With these new positive cases, the evidence is pointing to the very likely reality that we now have community spread in San Diego County,” Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said at a news conference Thursday. “This changes both our posture and accelerates our action. We are moving forward with the assumption and operating under the premise that we do have community spread.”
The new cases are:
— a woman in her 70s who traveled on the Diamond Princess cruise ship; she is at home in isolation;
— a man in his 50s who has a history of travel to Colorado;
— a man in his 40s who may have traveled to Colorado; he is at home in isolation;
— a woman in her 70s who is federally quarantined at MCAS Miramar; she was on the Grand Princess cruise ship and is in the hospital in isolation;
— and a man in his 50s who has no history of travel, likely a community spread; he is hospitalized in isolation.
Test samples will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation. The county will now conduct a contact investigation for those who tested positive.
At the same news conference, the county issued a public health order that is effective at midnight Thursday. Mass gatherings of 250 or more people are banned in San Diego County through the end of March. Gatherings under 250 people are encouraged to have a social spacing of at least six feet.
Despite the hard 250-person ceiling, Superintendent of San Diego Unified School District Cindy Marten — who was recently granted emergency powers to address the virus by the school board — was cagey on what that meant for schools.
"It's important to be prepared. We have plans to support our most vulnerable students," she said. "All decisions are made in concert with our public health agencies."
Additionally, there is an advisory for all seniors 65 or older, along with those who have a chronic illness, to cancel non-essential travel, stay at home and avoid mass gatherings.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer also issued a state of emergency for the city effective immediately as a “procedural action, which means we can act swiftly without any restrictions.”
“This will allow us to respond to situations as they arise and respond quickly,” he said. “It authorizes us to issue emergency contracts, carryout city business and combat the spread of the virus.”
Also, on Thursday, a Marine based at MCAS Miramar was reported to have contracted COVID-19 while visiting family in Washington state, the military said. A second Marine from Camp Pendleton who traveled with him was also being investigated.
They are being isolated on the base along with a number of other Marines whom they’ve come into contact with after returning to San Diego.
The two did not have any contact with the cruise ship passengers who are also being isolated at the air station. The base is quarantining more than 300 passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship in Oakland will remain at MCAS Miramar as part of a mandatory 14-day quarantine period. The roughly 270 cruise ship evacuees arrived at the base Wednesday afternoon, joining 42 passengers who arrived at the base Tuesday.
The total number expected to be housed on the base is around 400 but it was not immediately clear when the rest of the cruise ship evacuees were expected to arrive.
KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh contributed to this story.
This is a developing story. We will update as information becomes available.
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