The number of COVID-19 cases in San Diego County rose to 1,804 Sunday with 43 new cases, but the death toll remained at 45, with no new deaths, county health officials said.
On Easter Sunday, churches around San Diego County held virtual services, relying on streamlining technology to reach churchgoers who were asked to stay home to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
On Mount Helix in La Mesa, where Christians have been celebrating a sunrise service for 95 years, a pastor streamed the service on YouTube. The amphitheater was empty on Easter for the first time since 1925, said Pastor George Runyan of City Church Ministries.
Leaders from the Catholic, Lutheran and Episcopal communities issued a joint message.
“During this unprecedented time in living history when the whole world is suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, we walk with you on the journey to Easter,” the message said.
The San Diego County Health Department canceled the usual briefing Sunday because of Easter, but officials will return at 2:30 p.m. Monday.
Food was handed out by volunteers Saturday morning to more than 1,000 seniors and low-income families during a drive-through food drive at SDCCU Stadium.
The food drive was organized by Feeding San Diego and San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council. Volunteers included teachers, grocery workers, construction workers and nurses.
“We are going to fight to make sure that every family has access to adequate nutrition,” said Vince Hall, the CEO of Feeding San Diego. “We’re going to make sure that we sure work to plan for the future months of this crisis.”
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said at the event, “We really see the resiliency of our city. Everybody is really coming together, not only to get us through this but really to help plan for what may come at us in the future.”
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Saturday that officials are seeing an increase in the availability in testing and also seeing more experimental testing. Fletcher said the county will soon appoint a COVID-19 testing coordinator who will oversee bringing hospital and other health officials together to work on expanding testing.
Supervisor Greg Cox announced a new awareness campaign so that the public can submit photos of themselves holding a sign, such as “stay in place, maintain space and cover your face” that can be shared on social media. The website for more on the awareness campaign is livewellsd.org/psa.
“Let’s spread the word, not the virus,” Cox said.
Wooten said county health officials are working with public health officials in Tijuana to share coronavirus updates and information. “We are indeed engaged in regular calls with the leadership in public health in Tijuana and the consulate,” she said.
She said that if coronavirus patients from Baja want to visit a hospital in San Diego, that would be up to each individual hospital. But Wooten said she is not aware of that happening to date.
Dr. Eric McDonald, the county’s medical director of epidemiology, said the county is tracking any positive cases among the homeless population, whether coming from homeless encampments or emergency rooms. Investigators are tracking any people who have come in close contact with the homeless patient and the settings they’ve been in.
During the question-and-answer session with the media, Wooten was asked about when and if the county’s stay-at-home order will be extended.
“We have not peaked yet,” she said. “Once we reach the peak, then we will look at the number of cases after that point. It will be a gradual approach (on lifting any orders). But I can’t give you a specific time today.”
Cox said he was grateful to the baseball community for “stepping up the plate” and providing meals for first-line health workers.
He also thanked the many police, firefighters and lifeguards who paid tribute to health care workers at local hospitals Friday by flashing their emergency lights in a drive-by salute.
A “social-distancing scoreboard” revealed that most of Southern California was earning a “C+” grade, including San Diego, Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles counties.
“I know we say `Beat L.A.’ a lot in San Diego, but it looks like we have some work to do to pass our neighbors to the north,” Fletcher said.
On the same scoreboard, developed by a third-party software developer, Santa Barbara County earned top marks with an “A-” while California averaged a “B” grade.
The county and the 23 hospitals in the region have administered 23,353 COVID-19 tests, around 93% of which have returned negative. San Diego County has distributed 1.95 million pieces of personal protective equipment, including 797,000 N95 respirators, 716,000 pairs of gloves and 364,000 surgical masks.
Fletcher said that despite the response, the county was waiting on state and federal help, as “a number of entities are beginning to run low” on supplies.
Five Scripps Health hospital campuses in San Diego County are now equipped with a point-of-care test that can detect coronavirus in as little as five minutes.
The test, which will be used to screen for COVID-19 in hospitalized patients requiring quick diagnostic turnaround, can deliver a positive result in as little as five minutes and a negative result in 13 minutes, a hospital statement said Thursday. The diagnostic tool received emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on March 27.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy announced Saturday that 103 new cases of the coronavirus onboard the San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, bringing the number of positive cases on the ship to 550.
USS Theodore Roosevelt Capt. Brett Crozier was relieved of his duties April 2, three days after a letter he wrote asking for a stronger response to the coronavirus outbreak on the ship was published in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Crozier has since tested positive for COVID-19.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who fired Crozier, submitted his resignation Monday after a recording surfaced of him addressing the crew over the ship’s PA system, in which he called Crozier’s actions “a betrayal” and said he believed the captain either purposefully sent the letter to unauthorized parties or must have been “too naive or too stupid” to realize the import of his actions.