The San Diego County plans to hit businesses that will not follow the public health order as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, spurred by explosions in community settings such as restaurants, churches and gyms.
At a COVID-19 health conference Wednesday, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said county leaders know more needs to be done when it comes to enforcing local COVID-19 restrictions.
Fletcher said the county plans to set up a hotline and email where people can report any San Diego County public health order violations. For now, those types of calls are being received on the 211 county line, but this new hotline will allow reporting parties to talk to a county employee one-on-one, in more detail.
Fletcher said the county is also seeking to provide additional staff to handle those “irregular”; cases of non-compliance, as well as teams to assess blasts and blasts before. Fletcher said the county hopes to coordinate with individual cities in San Diego to address implementation.
Fletcher said additional steps to improve the implementation of COVID-19 will be discussed at the county Board of Supervisors meeting on August 4th.
The San Diego County Public Health Order has been updated many times since the coronavirus pandemic reached the region in mid-March. The guidelines in the document are intended to curb the spread of COVID-19 in San Diego County.
For now, public health order still says that the dining rooms of houses in restaurants should be kept closed (food can be served on patios and outdoor dining areas). Home operations in gyms, salons and barbershops should also be kept closed. Churches can perform their services outside, but the health order says that those meetings should be limited in size and attendees should keep physical distance from each other.
But not every business is following those guidelines.
The Gym in Pacific Beach, for example, remained open despite public health order, and was quoted as saying. On Wednesday, a county spokesman confirmed a COVID-19 outbreak at the gym, meaning at least three people there had tested positive for the virus.
NBC 7’s Artie Ojeda pressured county leaders for responses to stricter, final and immediate enforcement at Wednesday’s press conference regarding non-compliant businesses.
Dr Wilma Wooten said enforcement teams acted “as soon as possible” after being given information about blasts at certain businesses, which is what she said happened at the Gym. Last week, when the county asked the Gym to close, they did not know there was an explosion there.
“We worked with them to close, and they closed on Monday,” Wooten told The Gym.
It was not clear if the infections occurred during the time the business was operating deficiently or before the public health order was changed on July 6, NBC 7’s Artie Ojeda reports.
Meanwhile, the Smart Church in Kearny Mesa has also violated public health orders.
Two weeks ago, the church held one house service, and then, another. The county sent the church to rest and lift the order. Churches were told they could hold services outside, as long as attendees followed the county face mask and demands for social distancing.
On Wednesday evening, the Smart Church held a service outside, with little application of the face mask and distancing mandates. NBC 7 asked the county why that church continues to oppose order, and what, if any, consequences exist for repeated violations like this.
It is the third non-compliance worship service held in the Smart Church for three weeks.
“It is more than clear that in our order the church is responsible for getting full compliance from their parishes,” the county told NBC 7. “It is also clear that they have not succeeded again this week.”
Earlier this month, the church told NBC 7 that it was choosing to stay focused on its members “and maintain partnerships within the community.”
On Wednesday, San Diego County public health officials reported another 282 cases of COVID-19 in the country, and five new deaths. There were six new community outbreaks, making 24 outbreaks in the past seven days.
As of February 14, 2020, there have been 28287 COVID-19 positive cases in San Diego County and 552 related deaths. We will continue to monitor those daily numbers and bring you that coverage here.