Here's the notable news for May 13:
As the area's tribal casinos move closer to their planned reopenings next week, the county's public health officer balked Wednesday, saying it's "very clear" that opening the casinos would be a risk.
"We are very concerned and we want to make it very clear that we do not agree with reopening the casinos on May 18," Dr. Wilma Wooten said at the county's daily briefing. She said she believes the local tribes are subject to the county health order, and the county has reached out to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the matter.
Eight San Diego area tribes notified Gov. Gavin Newsom that they plan to reopen next week, the Sacramento Bee reported Saturday, and they have also notified the county.
A representative of Sycuan Casino, which plans to reopen May 20, told the Union-Tribune that the tribe disagrees that the county has jurisdiction over activities on the tribal reservation.
"However, we share the same concern for public health and safety, and that is why our reopening plan incorporates all federal, state and county public health guidance and industry best practices, over 700 different requirements to be approved by our regulators," Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation Chief Administrative Officer Adam Day wrote in an email.
Good news came Wednesday as the county continues to see a drop in the percentage of tests that come back positive for the novel coronavirus. The county reported 117 new positive cases Wednesday out of 3,541 tests — 3 percent of the tests reported. The region has tested a little more than 88,000 people.
Countywide, 5,278 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus. About 19 percent had to be hospitalized. But for those who ended up in a hospital, 31 percent were placed in intensive care.
As of Wednesday's reporting, some 194 county residents have died from COVID-19 — an outcome in about 4 percent of the local cases. Nearly all had underlying medical conditions.
At the county's daily briefing, Dr. Eric McDonald, the county's chief medical officer, shared a breakdown of the comorbidities found in local COVID-19 deaths:
54 percent had hypertension (high blood pressure)36 percent had dementia or Alzheimer's disease31 percent had diabetes30 percent had cardiac disease20 percent had chronic kidney disease11 percent had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma9 percent were immunocompromised6 percent were obeseSome of the patients who died had more than one underlying condition. McDonald noted that 7 percent of the patients, though, suffered solely from hypertension. He also said the numbers mirror what has been seen nationwide.Wooten said that more than half of the population has at least one type of underlying medical condition.
The breakdown of comorbidities followed a reporter's questions about statements made by county Supervisor Jim Desmond, who on Tuesday said the region has had only "six pure, solely coronavirus deaths." Desmond, a vocal proponent for reopening commerce, made his comments on the conservative podcast Armstrong & Getty Extra Large Interviews. "We've unfortunately had six pure, solely coronavirus deaths — six out of 3.3 million people," Desmond said on the show. "I mean, what number are we trying to get to with those odds. I mean, it's incredible. We want to be safe, and we can do it, but unfortunately, it's more about control than getting the economy going again and keeping people safe."
Following the news conference, Desmond said in an email that "(a)ny loss of life, for any reason, is worth preventing." He added: "I believe we can keep people safe and responsibly open our businesses."
Non-essential border travel restrictions will likely be extended for the long term as officials look into tightening enforcement of the new rules, the head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday. Acting Secretary Chad Wolf's comments came during a visit to San Diego, where he toured the border region in a helicopter.
A local Christian church has filed a federal lawsuit targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom and others over stay-home orders and other coronavirus restrictions it alleges are unconstitutional. South Bay United Pentecostal Church of Chula Vista argues the orders deprive them of religious freedom because gathering is disallowed, and objects to the placement of churches in the fourth stage of reopening; the state is currently in Stage 2.
Three days after he was placed in handcuffs for defying shut-down orders, an Oceanside gym owner has once again opened for business. "If we don't open, we won't survive," Lou Uridel said during a rally Wednesday in front of his MetroFlex Gym. About 100 supporters turned out, carrying signs and American flags. A few displayed "Trump 2020" banners and wore red "Make America Great Again" hats. Uridel was the first person in the county to be arrested for defying the public health orders.
Crossing the graduation stage, being handed a diploma, tossing the mortar board in the air — that rite of passage is a big deal. Such a big deal, in fact, that San Diego Unified's graduating seniors say that if they can't have in-person ceremonies, they are willing to wait. Even if it means waiting until August and if the ceremonies are pared down and socially distant. The opinion comes from more than 2,600 surveys among seniors districtwide.
Real estate in the time of the coronavirus has seen skittish sellers pull or keep their homes and condos off the market. During most of April, there were 31 percent fewer homes for sale, according to reports from the Redfin data center. U-T reporter Phillip Molnar found that, as of May 3, there were 5,166 active listings in San Diego County, down from around 7,250 at the same time last year.
But the cost of a house in San Diego County during the pandemic hasn't changed. Median price hovers around $590,000.
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