Retail stores across the region can open for curbside service as early as Friday provided they meet San Diego County’s guidelines, but shopping malls, dine-in restaurants, outdoor museums and offices with social distancing will remain closed until the next phase of reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The stores able to open Friday include bookstores, music stores, jewelry, toy, antique, home and furnishing, sporting goods, shoes, clothing and florists, but customers are still not allowed inside the building, so the stores will have to operate through curbside service or deliveries. Manufacturing, warehouse and logistics businesses supporting those businesses will also be able to open Friday.
All businesses opening as part of “Phase 2” must complete a safe reopening plan, found at www.sandiegocounty.gov/coronavirus.html, and post it publicly. All employees must be given copies of the plan.
These partial reopenings come as county health officials reported 110 new COVID-19 cases and seven deaths Thursday, raising the county’s totals to 4,429 cases and 165 deaths.
The fatalities reported Thursday include two women and five men. The percentage of deaths among the Latino population continues to rise, up to 41.2% of all deaths, as the mortality rate among the white population has dropped below half of all deaths.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher reported the county was amending some of the childcare health orders it had set down in March, including raising the number of children allowed in independent childcare groups with one adult from 10 to 12, and allowing shared use of hard-surfaced areas such as kitchens and bathrooms — provided those common areas saw consistent cleaning. These modifications bring San Diego County more into alignment with California’s recommendations.
For the first two months of the pandemic, the county more or less blazed its own path in an unprecedented situation, but has begun to adhere more strictly to the state’s — and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s — guidance. As a result, Fletcher said, the county would follow the state’s gradual phased opening structure.
“We plan to move consistent with the governor’s guidance,” he said.
A somewhat confusing proviso in Newsom’s reopening structure is the ability of some counties to move faster in reopening businesses like dine-in restaurants, bars and malls if those counties meet certain standards. Fletcher said this standard includes no new COVID-19 related deaths for a period of time that is highly unlikely in any of California’s large, urban counties anytime soon.
Fletcher said Wednesday that employers and employees should get used to increased health surveillance, including daily temperature checks. He said the best way to prevent the spread of the illness is “changing our individual behavior,” but that by sending sick employees home, businesses could help.
Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said her office has fielded numerous questions regarding non-emergency dental work. She replied the county would — in what has become a bit of a pattern — wait on state guidance before giving the go ahead to dentists and hygienists.
The county and its partners noted a marked increase in daily tests Thursday, with 3,325 completed, before adding that several hundreds tests from previous days were just counted Thursday. The rate of positive tests was 3%, a significant drop from the rolling average of just over 6%.
On Thursday, 379 COVID-19 positive individuals were in the hospital, 134 in intensive care. Since the health crisis began, 904 people with coronavirus have been admitted to the hospital, 287 of whom were sent to the ICU. The county estimates 2,478 people have recovered from the illness.
These numbers translate to 20.4% of all positive-testing individuals being hospitalized, 6.5% spending at least some time in intensive care and 3.7% dying of COVID-19.
A report released Thursday by the San Diego Workforce Partnership estimates that more than 67,379 employees have been affected by COVID-19, more than 35,000 of which work in the hospitality and restaurant industries.
Last week, 318,064 Californians filed unemployment claims — nearly the same amount as filed the previous week, and 2.8 times the pre-COVID-19 weekly record. This brings total filings to 4 million over the last six weeks. By comparison, the 79 weeks of the Great Recession saw 4.9 million filings.
The San Diego region’s estimated unemployment rate has risen to 26.8% amid the pandemic, a high not seen since the Great Depression, according to a report released Wednesday by the San Diego Association of Governments.
An Otay Mesa Detention Center detainee died Wednesday from COVID-19, marking the first confirmed death of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainee from the virus, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
The California Latino Legislative Caucus spoke out against the treatment at the facility.
“We knew the public health crisis at the Otay Mesa Detention Center would result in a tragedy like this, and it could have been prevented. ICE and CoreCivic must act quickly to safely release more people from detention in this coronavirus hotpot. This is a matter of life and death,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, chairwoman of the Latino Caucus.
Nearly 200 confirmed cases have made the facility’s outbreak the largest of any ICE detention center in the country.
Chula Vista, even among increased rates of infection, decided to open its parks for “active exercise,” such as jogging, walking and bike-riding, joining most of the rest of the county.
On Tuesday, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a framework for safely reopening businesses amid the pandemic. As part of the plan, the county will send a letter to Newsom requesting “total local control” on COVID-19 decisions.
The framework also offers guidelines on employee and customer safety, sanitation, physical distancing and general business practices and communications. Recommendations were based on input from the Responsible COVID-19 Economic Reopening Advisory Group, which includes county supervisors, Mayor Faulconer, small business owners and construction industry associations.
Another SANDAG study released Wednesday found that local freeway traffic has decreased by 44% since the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders began in the San Diego region, including 52% on state Route 163 and 50% on Interstate 5.
The SANDAG research and program management team analyzed travel on San Diego County freeways from mid-March to mid-April this year, and when compared to the same time last year, traffic volumes at eight hotspots decreased an average 41%. Additionally, speeds during peak periods averaged 30 mph higher.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: