County Total COVID-19 Deaths Reach 36, Confirmed Cases At 1,530
UPDATE: 7 a.m., April, 9
The San Diego County COVID-19 death toll has reached three dozen, with 1,530 confirmed cases.
County public health officials reported 76 new cases Wednesday and five additional deaths, bring the total death count to 36.
A San Diego Harbor Police officer has tested positive for the virus, the Port of San Diego announced Wednesday.
The officer has not worked since March 20 and began feeling ill after that date, port spokeswoman Brianne Page told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The county also reported deaths by racial breakdown for the first time on Wednesday: 15 white, 10 Hispanic/Latino, two Asian and the remaining nine fatalities unidentified by race or ethnicity.
Nearly half the total deaths among county residents from the pandemic have been reported in the last two days.
The county has seen 316 hospitalizations from the illness, 122 of which have gone into intensive care. There have been 247 estimated recoveries from COVID-19.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county was estimating the recoveries by taking the last known positive tests for the illness, waiting two weeks and then subtracting any loss of life. It is a rough estimate, but does give some semblance of the county's picture, he said, noting it was similar to how Johns Hopkins University tracked cases and recovery worldwide.
Fletcher added that the county would take all the time needed before lifting restrictions on public gatherings, citing the mistakes made in past pandemics.
"Early actions helped us buy time," he said Wednesday, referring to both local and state leaders quickly issuing states of emergency and preparing for an extended health crisis. "They helped prepare us for a day in the future to ease some of these health orders. But we'll be very gradually coming out of our current posture."
Fletcher went back 102 years to the influenza pandemic of 1918, in which some communities that had locked down to avoid an initial wave of cases then lifted restrictions too soon and suffered fatal consequences.
That flu killed 366 of San Diego's then-75,000 residents, or about half a percent of the city. Nearly 50 million people died in that global pandemic, believed to be the deadliest in history.
Fletcher reported hundreds of medical professionals had responded to a county request to join the medical reserve corps, a volunteer emergency medical response group.
He said 550 medical clinicians had volunteered, 200 non-medical but related professionals — those with experience in hospital administration for example — and 574 other volunteers had yet to be assessed. Fletcher said these professionals were "in ready reserve" in case they were needed to fight the pandemic.
- What is coronavirus?
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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The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure: fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
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Dr. Nick Yphantides, the county's medical director, echoed a call made Tuesday by the San Diego Blood Bank asking for plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients. He said this "convalescent plasma" had shown some effectiveness in early treatment studies. A collaboration between the blood bank, the county and hospitals was something they were pursuing "enthusiastically," he said.
Fletcher reported the county had distributed more than 1.88 million pieces of personal protective equipment, including 782,000 N95 respirators and 355,000 surgical face masks.
The county's number of confirmed outbreaks of the illness remained static at 25 total. Of those, 17 took place in congregate living facilities and were responsible for 108 positive cases and 11 deaths. The other eight outbreaks could be tracked to 33 cases and one death.
The Poway City Council on Tuesday night passed a moratorium on commercial evictions to help those affected by the coronavirus. Council members voted 4-0 to suspend commercial evictions until May 31.
The council also directed staff to develop a loan program for small businesses affected by the pandemic. More details on the Small Business Bridge Loan Program will be presented at the next council meeting on April 21.