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City Beaches From San Diego To Carlsbad Closed As COVID-19 Cases Keep Climbing

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Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: A "closed" sign stands at an entrance to Cowles Mountain in San Diego, March 23., 2020.

All city beaches from San Diego to Carlsbad will remain closed Tuesday as San Diego County officials urge residents to practice social distancing to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer ordered the closure of all city-owned beaches, parks and trails on Monday, and said violators could face fines and jail time.

Citing a lack of physical distance among city residents in public spaces over the weekend, Faulconer said the step was not one the city took lightly.

"Things are changing by the day. We have to be flexible, but we have to be firm," he said. "This weekend we closed city-owned parking lots at beaches and parks. Now I am calling on the city to close all parks, beaches, boardwalks, bays and trails until further notice."

The city of Oceanside closed all beach parking lots and public playgrounds on Monday, and the city of Carlsbad closed all beaches, parks and trails.

Del Mar and Solana Beach also closed their beaches, trails and most parks in those cities on Monday.

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Faulconer said that people should still get outside for exercise, but stay in their neighborhoods and maintain physical distance of 6 feet from people who are not part of their household.

"The actions of a few can take the lives of many," Faulconer said. "The time for education has ended. The time for enforcement is here."

San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said there are two orders that officers can enforce — the governor's stay-at-home order and a local ordinance pertaining to emergency closures. Both could result in a misdemeanor citation and leave violators facing up to $1,000 in fines, up to six months "confinement" or both, the chief said.

Faulconer's announcement came not long after San Diego County health officials said that if cities cannot maintain safe social distancing procedures at their parks and beaches, the county will close them to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

"We encourage outdoor exercise as long as people maintain 6 feet of social distancing," Wooten said Monday afternoon. "It looks like people are not able to do that."

The county is amending its previous public health order to include the authority to close beaches and parks if municipalities are unable or unwilling to enforce the 6 feet of social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.

The county confirmed 36 new COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the total to 230, a jump from 205 cases on Sunday, minus the 11 people heading home from MCAS Miramar after completing a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Of the 230 people in the county with positive diagnoses, health officials said 213 are county residents and 17 are not. Men testing positive outnumbered women 145-84.

Of the 37 patients who have been hospitalized, 34 are county residents. Seventeen of those hospitalized were in intensive care units, as was one non-county resident.

The first COVID-19 death of a San Diego resident was reported Sunday by San Diego County Health Department officials. The man, who was in his early 70s, died in Santa Clara County, said Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County's public health officer. She said he had recently returned from a trip to Hawaii, but no further information was released. That individual remains the only death from COVID-19 from San Diego County.

A San Diego Fire-Rescue Department firefighter has tested positive for COVID-19, Faulconer announced Monday. And another 29 firefighters and three lifeguards are in quarantine awaiting test results, according to SDFD Chief Colin Stowell.

UC San Diego announced Monday that an unidentified student who has been living in campus housing has tested positive for the coronavirus.

"The student resident has self-isolated while receiving care," UCSD officials said in a campus alert. "We are working closely with San Diego County Public Health officials and are following their guidance on notification to individuals with recent close contact."

Navy officials announced Monday that four staffers at Naval Medical Center San Diego have tested positive for COVID-19 along with one sailor aboard an unnamed San Diego-based ship.

U.S. Pacific Fleet officials announced Sunday that seven sailors who were aboard San Diego-based ships have tested positive for COVID-19. Two sailors tested positive Friday and five more tested positive Saturday, according to a statement released Sunday from U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs office, which said the seven are isolated off ship and restricted in movement in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

"Personnel who were immediately identified as having close contact with these sailors have been notified, placed in a restriction of movement status at their residences off the ship and are being monitored," the statement said. The Navy didn't say which ships the sailors who tested positive were on, but the ships involved are screening all personnel coming aboard and undergoing deep cleaning with bleach twice a day.

A sailor from Naval Base Coronado reported symptoms of COVID-19 to his supervisor last Tuesday, according to officials from the base. He tested positive on Friday and is now restricted to his residence, receiving medical care, and personnel who had close contact with him were notified and were self- quarantined at their homes.

Three Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar have also tested positive for the virus, leading to new health protections on that base.

In other developments Monday:

— the city of San Diego announced that the entirety of Golden Hall and parts of the Convention Center will be converted to homeless shelters with hundreds of beds. Faulconer also said the county's nine bridge homeless shelters with public nurses will convert to screening and triage centers.

A family shelter already exists in Golden Hall, and those families will be moved to hotel rooms for the duration of the quarantine. Single women already in shelters will be transferred to the Golden Hall beds later this week, and the majority of the remainder of existing shelter populations will be moved to the convention center at a later date.

— San Diego prosecutors at the city, state and federal levels announced joint efforts to combat hate crimes and predatory business practices by individuals or businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Local prosecutors and law enforcement agencies say they are responding to reports of discrimination and harassment against Asian Americans and immigrant populations related to COVID-19, as well as price gouging of products like food, hand sanitizer and protective masks.

— The hospital ship USNS Mercy departed Naval Station San Diego for Los Angeles in support of the nation's coronavirus pandemic response efforts. It's team of medical professionals "will act, in essence, as a `relief valve' for local civilian hospitals in Los Angeles so that local health professionals can better focus on COVID-19 cases," said Navy Capt. John Rotruck, Mercy's military treatment facility commanding officer. "We will use our agility and responsiveness as an afloat medical treatment facility to do what the country asks, and bring relief where we are needed most."

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