San Diego has eight community outbreaks, reopenings halted
By Miriam Raftery
Image: Comparison of U.S. and European Union COVID-19 cases based on Johns Hopkins University medical data.
June 25, 2020 (San Diego)—If you’re planning a European vacation anytime soon, you may be out of luck. The European Union is looking to reopen to tourism from countries with low rates of the virus, travelers from the U.S. are expected to be banned, along with travelers from Brazil and Russia, the New York Times reports.
COVID-19 has largely diminished in Europe thanks to swift and aggressive actions by government in nations hard-hit there in late March. By contrast, cases have skyrocketed in the U.S., which had a similar number of cases in late March as Europe. But President Donald Trump never ordered a national lock-down or made masks mandatory; the U.S. was also late disseminating testing and sent inadequate numbers of personal protection equipment to medical providers.
The U.S. has had 11.3 million cases to date, more than any other nation on earth. Over 120,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, which is more lives lost than from World War.
Local community outbreaks high for past week
San Diego County had a record number of new cases reported yesterday, 332. The region also has had eight community outbreaks in the past week, a “trigger” that mandates a halt to reopening new business sectors, such as movie theaters or amusement parks.
The outbreaks occurred in businesses, a campground, a social club, a restaurant, private homes and a federal facility. NBC 7 reports several cases also occurred in people who visited local casinos.
COVID-19 community outbreaks are one of 13 metrics the County is monitoring that could trigger new restrictions. The measure stipulates that no more than seven new outbreaks can be reported over a seven-day period. A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households.
“Given the number of COVID-19 community outbreaks being identified and the higher number of cases, the County has paused the reopening of additional sectors of the economy and won’t move forward, even if the state releases new guidance, until it is safe to do it,” according to a press release issued yesterday by the County.
Supervisors push to open more, despite rise in outbreaks
Despite rising numbers of cases and outbreaks, County Supervisors voted 4-1 for a proposal by Supervisor Jim Desmond to ask the state for permission to ultimately reopen certain sectors faster than the state currently allows, including wedding receptions, hotel conferences, some private events, team sports and street fairs.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher cast the only vote against this, citing public safety concerns given the spike in local cases that has currently prompted a stop to reopenings per state rules. Fletcher stated, "Given these facts, it is reckless and irresponsible to propose expedited reopening of additional in-door close contact group gatherings without any restrictions on the number of attendees.”
The rate of those testing positive for the virus locally has also risen, another concern. Yesterday alone, 6,981 tests were provided and 5% tested positive for COVID-19, compared to a 3.1% average over the past 14 days.
To date, the county has had 11,626 cases, of which 14.3% required hospitalization. A total of 437 people in our county have died, including six deaths reported between June 12 and June 22.
Stopping the spread
When a COVID-19 outbreak is connected to a business, such as a restaurant, it closes on its own to make sure all of its policies and procedures are being followed. Those include appropriate hygiene and sanitation, the use of face coverings, physical distancing and employee and customer health screenings.
“Most businesses are very responsible because they want to protect their employees and their customers,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.
Dr. Wooten reminders the public, “It’s important for people to remember that the virus has not gone away. As more people interact with each other, the risk for exposure increases. People should stay home as much as possible.”
San Diegans are required to wear a facial covering while in public and close to other people. Stay six feet apart where possible and stay home if you are ill.
More COVID-19 Information
More information on COVID-19 and detailed data summaries can be found at the County’s coronavirus-sd.com website.
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 thanks the Facebook Journalism Project for support through its COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program to help make this reporting possible. #FacebookJournalismProject. You can donate to support our local journalism efforts during the pandemic at https://www.EastCountyMedia.