Restaurants, Bars Closed As San Diego County Coronavirus Cases Rise To 55
UPDATE: 6:54 A.M., March 17, 2020
New public health orders took effect Tuesday in San Diego County including a ban on gatherings larger than 50 people, the closure of all bars and an order limiting restaurants to take-out and drive-through services only.
The orders were announced Monday, after health officials reported that COVID-19 cases in the county rose by 22 to a total of 55 positives cases among residents and non-residents alike.
The following orders took effect at midnight:
— All public and private gatherings of 50 or more people are legally prohibited, and all nonessential gatherings of any size are strongly discouraged.
— All bars, adult entertainment businesses and any business which serves alcohol and not food are to close.
— All restaurants must prohibit dine-in service and restrict services to drive-through, take-out and delivery. Restaurants and employees are urged to follow social distancing guidelines during this time.
— Businesses that require a doctor's note for a leave of absence must suspend those policies until the public health crisis is over.
— All public schools must cancel all classes, gatherings and events.
— Nonessential personnel are prohibited from entering hospitals and long-term care facilities, and all essential personnel displaying symptoms of COVID-19 are prohibited.
— Hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 must report such cases immediately to county health officials.
— All people traveling to San Diego County from China, Iran, South Korea, Italy or any other country at extreme contagion risk must self- quarantine in their homes for 14 days, regardless if they show symptoms or not.
— All people showing symptoms of COVID-19 must self-isolate in their homes.
Additionally, county health officials strongly urged people over the age of 65 with underlying medical conditions or a suppressed immune system to self-isolate. Hospitals were urged to delay elective procedures.
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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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More than 182,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported around the world with more than 7,100 deaths. The United States has seen nearly 4,400 cases and 87 deaths so far.
Meanwhile, Navy officials announced on Monday that another sailor from a San Diego naval base was in isolation after testing "presumptive positive" for coronavirus. The latest case at Naval Base Point Loma marks the third case among sailors with a connection to San Diego.
One sailor from Naval Base San Diego tested "presumptive positive" for the coronavirus on Friday and one sailor aboard the USS Boxer — which is homeported in San Diego — also tested "presumptive positive" on Sunday, according to Navy Region Southwest officials.
All three sailors are in isolation at their respective residences and their positive test results are pending confirmation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the Navy, people the sailors identified having close contact with have been notified and are also in home isolation.
The Navy announced new safety measures in the San Diego metro area after its first case was discovered on Friday.
"Navy Region Southwest is working closely with our partners in state and local public health departments, and following all guidance from the Department of Defense, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect Navy personnel and visitors to our installations," said Brian O'Rourke, a media officer with the U.S. Navy.
O'Rourke said the following measures will be taken in San Diego:
— Commanders will continue no-touch ID scanning at all entry control points. Personnel are required to present both sides of the ID/credential for screening by a guard.
— Visitor Control Center personnel will use the health questionnaire to screen people seeking access to installations.
— Installations with air terminals in the San Diego area will begin screening using questionnaires of everyone embarking or disembarking flights.
— Installations will provide cleaning products and hand sanitizers for high-traffic facilities and common areas on base.
— Navy commanders should assess the risk of holding any ship tours, large events or mass gatherings.
Two Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar also tested positive for the virus, one on Friday and another on Saturday, leading to new health protections on the base.
Effective immediately, drivers entering the gate will hold up ID so guards do not have to touch them. Fitness facilities will have modified hours to increase cleaning throughout the day. Chapel services and base tours are canceled until further notice.
In addition, buffet-style service in meal halls will be suspended, employees eligible for tele-work are required to do so, the VITA tax center will close, the legal assistance center will be restricted to active-duty service members and the administrative photography studio will operate by appointment only and be limited to Promotion Board and command photography until further notice.
The county has secured 237 motel rooms for people without homes or who cannot return to homes to isolate should they show symptoms. County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county would attempt to reach more than 2,000 rooms for unsheltered people.
County Supervisor Greg Cox said the county had placed more than 180 handwashing stations around the county and would install another 58 by the end of the day.
Encinitas Union School District reported late Sunday that a person at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School has tested presumptive positive for coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. The district has not yet said whether the infected person was a student, teacher or school employee.
A coalition including Fletcher, San Diego Gas & Electric, The San Diego Foundation, United Way of San Diego and the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council announced the creation of a fund to help nonprofit organizations provide food and financial assistance to people impacted by the global pandemic. The San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund launched with $1.3 million in funding, meant for nonprofits helping with food insecurities, rent and utility assistance and income replacement.