The number of coronavirus cases in San Diego County reached 297 Wednesday, an increase of 55 from Tuesday, tying the highest day-over-day increase in COVID-19 cases so far.
Of the nearly 300 positive-testing individuals, 59 have been hospitalized, with 29 of those patients listed as critical. The number of coronavirus deaths in San Diego County — two — remained unchanged.
Dr. Eric McDonald, the county’s medical director of epidemiology, presented a bleak report at an afternoon briefing, stating that if social distancing is not maintained by the public, and cases double every three days, the county’s hospital beds will be filled by April 14. Even if the cases double every six days, healthcare providers are likely looking at full bed capacity by mid-May, he said.
Of the 297 people in San Diego County with positive diagnoses, health officials said 277 are county residents and 20 are not. Men testing positive outnumbered women 185-112.
Of the 59 patients who have been hospitalized, 57 are county residents. Twenty-eight of those hospitalized were in intensive care units, as was one non-county resident.
Cases in patients between 20 and 59 formed the bulk of the total, 236 overall or 79% of cases.
McDonald said that statistic probably represented a testing bias, as members of the military, first-responders and healthcare workers fall most frequently into that age group and those groups are tested at rates much higher than the general population.
McDonald said the county would, beginning Thursday, cease counting non-county residents in daily coronavirus updates.
Local health officials on Tuesday confirmed the second death of a county resident from the coronavirus, a person in their late-70s who had “many” underlying health issues, Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said.
Wooten also reported the first two infant cases on Tuesday, but released no other details.
Wooten said she and other county health officials believe the crest of cases is yet to come, and reminded people who are showing symptoms that unless they are extremely ill, to stay at home and avoid going to a hospital to help save beds.
She said “81% of those who get COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms” and it’s safest for them to self-quarantine and avoid leaving home until three days after the last signs of a fever or cough, and at least a week after the initial onset of symptoms.
With the number of ill San Diegans continuing to increase, the San Diego City Council Wednesday unanimously approved an immediate eviction moratorium to provide relief to residents and businesses facing financial hardship related to the pandemic.
The emergency law temporarily halting evictions in San Diego will last until May 31. Tenants must demonstrate a “substantial decrease in income or medical expenses” caused by COVID-19 in order to qualify. It will not relieve a tenant of their requirement to pay rent or restrict a landlord from recovering rent at a future time.
The city’s emergency ordinance protects tenants against evictions if they can document their income has been substantially reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or if they have medical bills related to the coronavirus.
The new ordinance directs staff to develop a strategy to work with banks and lenders to halt mortgage payments or foreclosures for individuals and landlords who have suffered severe loss of wages and income due to the health crisis.
The council, which convened an emergency meeting, also unanimously approved a multimillion-dollar small business relief fund proposed last week by Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
The mayor has grown the fund from about $4 million to $6 million since he announced its creation last week as part of a broader economic relief package. Financial assistance will range from $10,000 to $20,000 and will be allocated to eligible small businesses based on the availability of funds and program guidelines.
— Father Joe’s Villages began moving more than 100 single women from two shelters into an expanded homeless shelter at Golden Hall. The organization also screened four people with flu-like symptoms at its homeless shelters, sending two of them to emergency departments while the other two were self-isolating in motel rooms San Diego County has secured for that purpose as they await test results. No positive case of coronavirus has yet been found in San Diegans experiencing homelessness.
— The Navy announced that a civilian employee working at the Naval Air Station North Island child development center tested positive for COVID-19. The employee tested positive on Sunday and Navy leadership was notified on Monday. The individual is currently at home taking precautions consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Navy officials announced Tuesday that three sailors on the San Diego-based aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the number of area shipboard cases to 13, including seven sailors on unnamed ships, two sailors on the USS Boxer and one sailor on the USS Coronado.
Three sailors at a Naval Base San Diego schoolhouse have tested positive for COVID-19, as well as one sailor at Naval Air Station North Island.
Three Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and one marine at Camp Pendleton have also tested positive for the virus.
The first coronavirus death of a San Diego area resident was reported Sunday by San Diego County Health Department officials. The man, who was in his early 70s, died in Santa Clara County, Wooten said.
San Diego State University announced Tuesday that a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus, and UC San Diego announced Monday that a student who was living in campus housing has tested positive COVID-19.
Most beaches in San Diego County remain closed in an attempt to encourage social distancing and limit the spread of the coronavirus, but beaches in Coronado and Oceanside have not yet been deemed off-limits.
Both cities shut down playgrounds and public beach parking lots on Monday, but neither city has officially closed its coastline as long as beachgoers maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from people who are not a part of their household.
Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego and Solana Beach closed their beaches, trails and parks on Monday, while Imperial Beach and the Port of San Diego announced similar closures on Tuesday.