By Miriam Raftery
April 9, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego County officials yesterday expanded a prior health order to prohibit gatherings of any type, effective today. That means gatherings of 10 people or less are no longer allowed in San Diego County, unless they live in same household.
San Diego County health officials also urged local residents to avoid experimental treatments for COVID-19, stressing that there is no known cure yet for the illness.
In a briefing on Tuesday, two county medical officials specifically warned against hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial medication touted multiple times in recent days by President Trump. “We are not recommending this medication,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s chief health officer.
While not FDA approved, the medicine is being allowed by the FDA in serious cases as an experimental treatment, but can be fatal to those with heart problems or certain other conditions, and should not be taken except under a doctor's supervision, medical experts warn the public. Deaths have occurred in multiple countries among people who attempted to self medicate with the drug.
The ban on small gatherings comes after people continued congregating in parks and other open spaces, ignoring orders to stay home except for essential activities such as getting groceries, going to the pharmacy or exercising.
The revised order also expands the requirement for employees of certain businesses to wear face coverings to now include banks, public transportation and child care providers that serve food as well as grocery stores, pharmacies and others included in a prior directive.
The Navy Face has now ordered for all 50,000 Sailors, Civilians at Naval Base San Diego to wear face masks as well.
There have been 1,530 cases of coronavirus disease and 36 deaths among San Diego County residents as of Wednesday afternoon. County officials also clarified a prior racial breakdown of cases, adding that none of the 36 deaths to date have been among African-Americans.
View the local breakdown by zip code, age, race and other factors here: https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/community_epidemiology/dc/2019-nCoV/status.html
Across California there have been 16,957 cases and 442 deaths as of Wednesday afternoon.
Across the United States, there were 432,496 cases and 15,774 deaths as of late Thursday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Scripps Health launched the fastest available point-of-care test for detecting the coronavirus at its five hospital campuses in San Diego County. The system from Abbott can deliver a positive result in as little as five minutes and a negative result in 13 minutes.