On Tuesday, we learned that California had broken the daily record for new cases of COVID-19, with more than 8,000 new cases reported on Monday. Needless to say, the trajectory has not been looking good for our state recently, such that the Governor has had to impose new restrictions across at least 7 counties.
As a paramedic and public health educator, I remain concerned by the increase in cases in Oceanside and across the state. Here in San Diego County, public health officials have also increased restrictions due to both rising numbers statewide and a failure to flatten the curve in the county. On May 31st, the number of new coronavirus cases in the county was at 73. On June 30th, there were 474 new cases.
In Oceanside, the last 10 days have seen a record number of cases. While increased testing has somewhat contributed to higher COVID-19 numbers, the fact remains that spread percentage is outpacing testing percentage.
Despite the requirement to wear masks in public places in our state, and despite the fact that many employees are still working from home and schools are out for the summer, cases have not declined as we might have hoped. The new county restrictions require that bars, breweries, and wineries that do not serve food must close as of July 1st. Restaurants and establishments that do serve food must now close by 10 p.m. each evening instead of at 12 a.m.
Equally troublesome is the fact that an increasing number of new cases are being reported in younger people, with the fastest-growing group being primarily between the ages of 20-29. While it is positive to see that older people, who tend to have higher mortality rates, are listening to public health advice, it is concerning that this level of caution is not being observed in younger people.
While there is still much we do not understand about this novel coronavirus, it is clear that mortality is not and should not be the only concern or the only metric driving our personal and public health decisions. Not only are we seeing cases of people testing positive for the virus months after recovering from it previously, but we are also learning of longer-term and potentially even permanent damage resulting from the virus.
However, there may be some good news on the horizon relative to testing. An Israeli scientist has invented a one minute test for COVID-19 that was found to have a 90 percent accuracy based on a small sample of patients. The test is based on spectroscopy and is currently undergoing validation, but is eligible to be fast-tracked for FDA approval and could be available as soon as September or October. The hope is that businesses such as airlines might be able to offer the test as a safeguard while we continue to wait for a vaccine to become available.
With many school districts across the country still unsure as to how they will be handling the upcoming school year, having such a test available could provide some level of reassurance to parents and students.
4th of July Weekend Restrictions and Fireworks
The city has closed beach parking lots to deter crowds from gathering on the sand. It is unfortunate that many Independence Day celebrations have been cancelled, however, it has been deemed necessary by officials in order to minimize the spread of this pandemic. A few cities do have planned fireworks celebrations which emphasize staying in your car, maintaining physical distancing and even a virtual fireworks show. Click here for more information about planned safer fireworks events in San Diego County.
I will be continuing to monitor the situation with COVID-19 for Oceanside specifically and San Diego county as a whole, so please make sure to add firstname.lastname@example.org to your contacts to ensure that our emails reach your inbox. We read all replies to these emails, so let me know your thoughts!