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Encinitas patient tests ‘presumptive positive’ for COVID-19

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated with information about Scripps Health coronavirus nurse hotline.

ENCINITAS — A male patient in his 50s with a respiratory illness and displaying symptoms of novel coronavirus is currently in isolation at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas.

After the patient’s arrival on March 10 at Scripps Encinitas, hospital personnel contacted San Diego County Public Health Services to notify them of a potential case of COVID-19 and requested the county administer a test for the virus, a Scripps spokesperson told The Coast News.

The following day, Scripps was notified by county health officials that the patient had tested “presumptive positive” for COVID-19.  However, the hospital is still awaiting confirmation of the man’s positive diagnosis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is responsible for verifying all COVID-19 test results.

County officials believe the patient at Scripps Encinitas is particularly concerning as it suggests the virus is “very likely” spreading among the community at large, according to Coast News wire reports.

Due to federal patient privacy protections, there is no additional information regarding the patient’s identity.

The case at Scripps Encinitas marks one of at least five new COVID-19 cases in San Diego County.

The other four cases include a 70-year-old woman who was aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship and is in home isolation; a man in his 50s with a travel history to Colorado; a man in his 40s with a possible travel history to Colorado who is under investigation; and a woman in her 70s, also a passenger on the ship, who is now in hospital isolation.

On Thursday, the county of San Diego declared a public health emergency, banning all mass gatherings of 250 or more people.

Cities across San Diego County have implemented numerous preparedness measures in a collective effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including closing public schools and canceling sporting events, concerts, and other large public gatherings.

Scripps Health officials acknowledge that while preventing a coronavirus outbreak remains a challenge, they are fully aware of the unfolding situation involving COVID-19.

In a written statement, Scripps Health said: “We are experienced and well-equipped to deal with this situation. [Scripps] has routine practices in place for thorough cleaning throughout our facilities, and also for screening our visitors for sickness. We are continually monitoring the situation and are adapting our practices as appropriate to protect the health and safety of our community. Scripps facilities are very safe places for people to receive care and visit.”

Additionally, Scripps Health has created a coronavirus nurse hotline to help deal with a potential influx of people showing symptoms by connecting patients to a team of nurses dedicated to screen for the virus.

People with suspected symptoms (fever or respiratory symptoms) can call 888-261-8431. The line is
staffed from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Regarding the city’s response to coronavirus, Mayor Catherine Blakespear issued the following written statement on March 12:

“At this time, the City of Encinitas is focusing on following guidelines from California and the county’s public health officials – mandatory canceling of public events larger than 250 people, increased cleaning protocols at city-controlled sites, including the Encinitas and Cardiff libraries, Senior & Community Center, and City Hall, planning for smaller gatherings to maintain a six-foot distance between people, and instituting protocols for our city staff, public safety personnel and public works employees to stay well.”

There are no changes to city council or planning commission meeting scheduled for March, however, the following events have been canceled or rescheduled:

  • The March 13 Music by the Sea Concert at the Encinitas Library (canceled)
  • The March 18 Wednesday @ Noon concert at the Encinitas Library (canceled)
  • The March 21 Surf Rider Moonlight Beach Clean Up (canceled)
  • The March 25 Wednesday @ Noon concert at the Encinitas Library (canceled)
  • The March 29 Encinitas Half Marathon has been rescheduled for March 2021