REGION – The rapid pace of San Diego County reopening its economy continues, even as public health officials reported 184 new COVID-19 cases, six deaths and an outbreak tied to a reopened restaurant.
Bars, zoos, community swimming pools, movie theaters and hotels all were allowed to reopen Friday. Guidance from the state late Thursday night allowed County Supervisor Greg Cox to announce nail salons, tattoo shops, massage therapists, and personal care businesses — such as waxing services — will be allowed to open June 19.
Sanitizing and facial coverings at these businesses will be especially important due to the physical proximity of the work, he said, offering a word of caution as more businesses open their doors: “We can’t let reopenings lead to a surge in cases that will ruin everything we have done in the last several months.”
The county also announced the launch of a new interactive website which will allow residents to find COVID-19 testing locations near them at 211sandiego.org.
While the cases and deaths reported Saturday increased totals to 9,314 COVID-19 cases in the county and 319 related deaths, a large surge in cases from Memorial Day forward due to reopenings and weeks of protests has not yet surfaced, officials noted. The incubation period for the novel coronavirus — which causes COVID-19 — is believed to be around two weeks.
Of the 5,783 tests reported to the county Friday, 3% were positive new cases. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive tests is 3%.
Of those testing positive, 1,501 of cases have required hospitalization and 425 had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.
Of the six additional deaths reported Saturday, five were females and one was male, ranging in age from mid-60s to early 90s. All had underlying health conditions.
Even with a lack of a significant spike, early signs of a possible resurgence are showing, said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. She said the county has recorded five community outbreaks of the illness in the past week. Past community outbreaks have included church meetings, parties and a wedding.
“We had only about three community outbreaks in the month of May,” Wooten said.
One newly reported outbreak originated from a restaurant. The outbreak remains under investigation, and Wooten said she could not immediately share additional information.
One of the county’s 13 “triggers,” which could cause the county to take industry-specific actions, pause all reopening efforts, or even dial back reopenings, would be having seven recorded community outbreaks within a week. The county remains “green” on all 13 triggers.
Cox said movie theaters that reopened Friday follow similar occupancy rules to churches, with a maximum of 25% of the room’s capacity or 100 customers, or whichever is lowest, and typical sanitizing and facial coverings required while in line.
However, not every business able to open Friday necessarily did, Cox said, referencing the San Diego Zoo’s announced June 20 reopening date. The USS Midway Museum announced Thursday it would hold off on reopening until July 1.
“The dangers of COVID-19 are as real today as they were in March,” Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Wednesday.
He cited ballooning hospitalization rates in Orange and Ventura counties and a continued crisis in Los Angeles County in saying that while San Diego County has avoided the worst of the pandemic so far, caution must be exercised to avoid a second wave.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency-funded Great Plates program, which partners with local restaurants to deliver food to seniors during the pandemic, had been scheduled to end Wednesday, but was extended through July 1.
More than 1,400 people have received meals from 31 restaurants under the program.