COUNTY STARTS CRACKDOWN ON BUSINESSES NOT COMPLYING WITH COVID-19 RULES, RAMPS UP TESTING AS CASES CLIMB LOCALLY AND NATIONALLY

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By Miriam Raftery

July 26, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego County health officials reported 603 new cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths yesterday. Total cases locally have exceeded 26,000 while total deaths have reached 533.

The county remains on the state watch list.  In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the county this week announced that a Safe Reopening Compliance Team of county staff will be investigating complaints about “businesses that are flagrantly not complying with the local health order,” according to County News Service.

 Residents are encouraged to report businesses defying public health rules by calling their local police or Sheriff department’s non-emergency line.

Also this week, the county announced a record number of tests. On Saturday, 16, 429 tests were administered, up from a previous high of 10,544.  Of the most recent tests, the good news is that only 3.8% were positive, with a rolling 14 day average positive test rate of 5.8%.  Just one new community outbreak was reported Saturday, in a business.

A troubling trend, however, is that recently, more outbreaks and deaths are occurring in the general population. By contrast, at the start of the pandemic locally, most cases and deaths were in nursing care facilities or other congregate settings. As of July 21, 58% of deaths were among the general population.  More cases are also being reported among younger people, county health officials report.

Some visitors have posted complaints online of crowded conditions at San Diego beaches, where many were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing despite county rules requiring these.

The County is  ramping up outreach to Latino communities through TV, radio, online and signage campaigns.  About 60% of local cases and 45% of deaths in San Diego County are Latinos, though Latinos account for only 34% of the local population.  Latinos are urged to get tested and answer questions if contacted by a COVID-19 contact tracer. The county has hired many more contact tracers as well, in an effort to get back into compliance with state regulations and off the state watch list, which would allow more businesses to reopen.

Anyone wanting a COVID-19 test can call their healthcare provider or call 2-1-1 for a reference, especially if you have symptoms.  You can also make an appointment online at 211SanDiego.org.

Nationally, the U.S. rate of COVID-19 cases and deaths are by far the highest in the world. According to the World Health Organization, the U..S. has had 4.3 million cases and nearly 150,000 deaths.  About 2 million people have recovered and the remaining cases are still active. 

The outbreaks have led the Republican National Committee to cancel the live portion of its convention in Florida. Four months into the pandemic, President Donald Trump has begun wearing a mask in public and is now urging others to do so.  In Texas, the pandemic is so severe that hospitals are full in some cities, leading Texas authorities to warn that some patients may be sent home to die. More states have adopted mask regulations and business openings in several states have been rolled back after a new wave of COVID-19 outbreaks.

“Getting through this pandemic requires that we all do our part to protect ourselves and others,” says Dr. Wilma Wooten,  San Diego County's public health director. “We are depending on everyone. Every individual, every business, every school and all other sectors to play a role and protect our most vulnerable.”

Miriam Raftery, editor and founder of East County Magazine, has over 35 years of journalism experience. She has won more than 350 journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego Press Club, and the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Her honors include the Sol Price Award for responsible journalism and three James Julian awards for public interest reporting from SPJ’s San Diego chapter. She has received top honors for investigative journalism, multicultural reporting, coverage of immigrant and refugee issues, politics, breaking news and more. Thousands of her articles have appeared in national and regional publications.

East County Magazine gratefully acknowledges the Facebook Journalism Project for its COVID-19 Relief Fund grant to support our local news reporting including impacts on vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more: #FacebookJournalismProject and https://www.facebook.com/fbjournalismproject/

You can donate to support our local journalism efforts during the pandemic at https://www.EastCountyMedia.org/donate.

 


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Comments

Brown shirts

My cat does not like rats, they can smell them a mile away. We know what cats do to rats. I feel we are in Nazi Germany, it is another cycle in our history, this time people ratting out businesses that they deem not in compliance with the COVID mandates and lockdown. This is no longer America, you do know?!

If you see a noncompliant business, the courteous thing

to do if it's a minor issue would be to let the owner know directly and give them a chance to correct it. For instance, if one employee has taken off a mask, or if a couple of tables are a little too close, or someone forget to sanitize something perfectly.

If there is a flagrant mass violation, reporting to the authorities may be the only way to protect public health, for instance if you observed a bar open in defiance of a public health shutdown order with wild partying, no masks and no social distancing.