San Diego to legally enforce new public health orders over coronavirus

Posted at 4:01 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 20:11:11-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego's Board of Supervisors announced 11 legally enforceable health orders to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The new health orders included:

  • All public or private “gatherings,” defined as any event or convening that brings together 50 or more people in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, theater, church, casino, large conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria, or any other theater, church, casino, large conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria, or any other indoor or outdoor space, are prohibited. All non-essential gatherings of any size are strongly discouraged;
  • All bars, adult entertainment establishments, and other business establishments that serve alcohol and do not serve food, shall close;
  • All restaurants and other business establishments that serve food shall close all on-site dining. All food served shall be by delivery, or through pick-up or drive thru. Social distancing shall be required for persons picking up food on site.
  • All businesses shall enact social distancing, increased sanitation standards, and shall make every effort to use telecommuting for its workforce. All businesses shall suspend any policy or procedure requiring doctor verification for sick or other leave approval;
  • All public or private schools, colleges, and universities shall not hold classes or other school activities where students gather on the school campus. Parents of school-aged minor children shall take steps to ensure said children are not participating in activities prohibited by the Order and that social distancing requirements are practiced;
  • A strong recommendation is made that all persons who are 65 years old or older, have a chronic underlying condition, or have a compromised immune system self-quarantine themselves at home;
  • “Non-essential personnel,” defined as employees, contractors, or members of the public who do not perform treatment, maintenance, support, or administrative tasks deemed essential, are prohibited from entry into any hospital or long-term care facility. All essential personnel who show any potential signs or symptoms of COVID-19 shall be strictly prohibited from entry into hospitals or long-term care facilities;
  • Hospitals and healthcare providers shall take measures to preserve resources including delaying non-emergent or elective surgeries or procedures where feasible;
  • Hospitals, healthcare providers, and commercial testing laboratories shall report all COVID-19 test results to the Public Health Officer immediately after such results are received;
  • All persons arriving in the county, from locations as found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Warning Level 3 Travel Advisory shall be subject to 14-day home quarantine, self-monitoring;
  • A strong recommendation is made for persons exhibiting mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 to self-isolate themselves in their place of residence unless seeking medical treatment

The new orders go into effect at 12 a.m. Tuesday.

"It is not a request, it is not a suggestion. It is a legal order," Supervisor Nathan Fletcher told reporters Monday.

Three of the new public health orders were described, however, as strong recommendations by County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten.

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The order does not ban operations at airports, public transportation, or other spaces where 50 or more people may be in transit but able to practice social distancing. It also doesn't include essential businesses where many people are present but are able to practice social distancing, the order say.

The order also doesn't affect emergency shelters, homeless shelters, or other similar essential gatherings that are for the protection of public health and safety and where appropriate precautions are taken.

"It's going to be a strain on individuals and the local economy, but we will get through this," Supervisor Greg Cox said.

The county has requested 238 hand-washing stations and has installed about 180 to assist the county's homeless population in combating the virus' spread.

Testing is increasing in San Diego County, but not widely available, according to Dr. Eric McDonald, medical director of the San Diego County HHSA’s Epidemiology and Immunization Services Branch.

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The county is advising that only those who need medical case should be tested. Those with mild symptoms are recommended to stay home.

Currently, San Diego's public health lab can test up to 120 tests per day. County tests are now also final and do not need to be sent to the CDC for confirmation.

Health officials also announced San Diego County's current number of coronavirus cases have increased to 55 patients, including 47 San Diego residents and eight patients in federal quarantine at MCAS Miramar.

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Globally, there have been about 180,000 cases and 7,000 deaths. In the U.S., 4,002 cases have been reported, with 71 deaths.