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County Officials Urge Patience From Public As COVID-19 Cases Cross 3,100

People at Mission Beach on Monday, April 27, 2020, the first day beaches in San Diego reopen with restrictions.
Matt Hoffman
People at Mission Beach on Monday, April 27, 2020, the first day beaches in San Diego reopen with restrictions.

UPDATE: 6:55 a.m., April 28, 2020

Following the first day that beaches in several cities around San Diego County were reopened for recreation activities, the county's COVID-19 totals sit at 3,141 cases and 113 deaths.

County health officials reported 98 more confirmed cases on Monday and two deaths from the illness.

The county and regional hospitals reported 823 test results Monday, with 12% returning positive. This represents a considerably higher rate than the rolling average — around 6% since the pandemic began. There are 1,734 COVID-19 positive individuals who have recovered from the illness, San Diego County health officials estimate, and 363 coronavirus patients were hospitalized as of Monday.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 706 people have been hospitalized due to the illness and 230 have been sent to intensive care units. Around 22.5% of all positive-testing individuals have been hospitalized, 7.3% have entered the ICU at some point and 3.6% have died.

Beaches in San Diego, Oceanside, Encinitas, Coronado and Imperial Beach reopened for recreation activities on Monday, but numerous beaches in San Diego County remain closed.

The sandy stretches in those respective cities are open for surfers, swimmers, kayakers and paddleboarders in the ocean, as well as runners and walkers on the sand. Imperial Beach has allowed access to the beach, but not the ocean, which is too polluted to allow people in the water because of an ongoing issue with runoff from the Tijuana River.

RELATED: Which San Diego Beaches Are Open Monday?

But group gatherings, parking in lots and lying down on the beach are not allowed. Those activities could be lifted in Phase 2 of the reopening plans.

Beaches in Carlsbad, Del Mar and Solana Beach remain closed. Solana Beach city officials announced Sunday that they are working to reopen city beaches the week of May 4.

The beach openings came as Gov. Gavin Newsom lashed out on Monday at large crowds that gathered over the weekend in Orange County, notably Newport Beach. He said social-distancing mandates need to be followed to continue slowing the spread of the virus. Newport Beach officials will hold a special meeting Tuesday to consider closing the city's beaches for the next three weekends.

Elsewhere, two people sheltering at the San Diego Convention Center have tested positive for COVID-19, city officials said Sunday.

One patient was moved to a motel room and the other refused quarantine and left, according to Ashley Bailey of the city of San Diego. The second person was later located and moved to a hotel room for isolation.

The two people who tested positive are the only positive tests to date after 663 tests have been given to shelter residents, staff and volunteers. There have been 644 negative tests and 17 pending.

Testing began April 16 at the emergency homeless shelter in the convention center as part of a proactive effort to detect anyone who may have COVID-19 but has not shown symptoms.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Monday that county staff is working with cities on plans to gradually open parks and businesses, but such moves would be made incrementally and cautiously. He said any city wishing to reopen will have to have specific plans detailing how they would implement social distancing and post signs notifying the public of the restrictions.

Additionally, the county public health order going into effect Friday mandating facial coverings in public will have to be factored into any plan.

"We believe face coverings are going to be part of our life for the foreseeable future," Fletcher said.

How long it will last remains unknown, but he said the development of widespread vaccinations or other treatments for COVID-19 would play a major role in when the county goes back to "normal."