Mayor Kevin Faulconer Monday ordered the closure of all city-owned beaches, parks and trails, and said violators could face fines and jail time, as officials announced three dozen new novel coronavirus cases.
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.”
He 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.”
His 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,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “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 city of Oceanside closed all beach parking lots and public playgrounds Monday, and the city of Carlsbad closed all beaches, parks and trails.
Lifeguard Division Chief James Gartland said people can still walk, run or ride a bike, as long as they abide by social distancing rules, which advise people to stay 6 feet away from others.
Monday afternoon, the county confirmed 36 new coronavirus cases, bringing the number to 230, a jump from 205 cases on Sunday, after subtracting from its data 11 patients who were under federal quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Those patients were being sent home Monday, Wooten said. No additional deaths were reported.
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, Wooten said. 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 the county.
Of the 230 people in the county with positive diagnoses, health officials said 213 are county residents and 17 are not county residents. 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.
San Diego County’s chief medical officer said Sunday that he availability of respirators and the capacity of intensive care unit beds has improved. Dr. Nicholas Yphantides said at a Saturday briefing that when he looked at some of the data, he saw “something pretty remarkable. The availability of ICU beds and the number of respirators that are available has actually grown.”
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.
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore called Monday afternoon on residents to strictly heed state and local stay-at-home and social-distancing mandates issued last week as key strategies in reducing the dire public-health threats posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is imperative we all comply with these orders,” Gore said in a prepared statement. “They were not created to follow when convenient. Not following these orders puts everyone’s lives at risk.”
Nisleit had a similar message.
“We need 100% compliance from the public,” the police chief said. “Officers will be continuing education, but moving to enforcement. Working together we will defeat this virus.”
He 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.
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. Mayor Kevin 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 Monday 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.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide “stay-at-home” order Thursday night, advising residents not to leave their homes except for essential needs. Essential services remain open, including gas stations, pharmacies, banks, laundromats, and places to obtain food, including grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants.
Any other public event or gathering is considered non-essential and is banned under the order until further notice.
Under the stay-at-home mandate, all gyms and fitness centers are closed. The mandate also restricts childcare to “stable” groups of 10 children with one childcare provider.
The “stable” vocabulary refers to the same group of 10 children each day and the same provider each day. If a daycare or related business has more than 10 children, each group needs to be in separate rooms and cannot intermingle. Social distancing is encouraged even among the subgroups.
The health orders banning gatherings do not apply to public transit, airports or any other mass transportation. The Metropolitan Transit System said it would continue running buses and trolleys at least until March 31 with ramped-up sanitization procedures on vehicles and at stations.