County Officials Declare Precautionary Public Health Emergency Amid Coronavirus Cases

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced the city declared a local emergency and a public health emergency. County officials will hold a meeting next week to decide to either extend the declaration or not

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Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced the city declared a local emergency and a public health emergency to ensure readiness for the county after providing an update on the coronavirus cases in San Diego County Friday afternoon.

“We're doing this to best position our county to contain and confront the novel coronavirus,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher continued saying that this action does not signify an increase in the risk for the residents of San Diego County.

NBC 7's Jackie Crea has the latest information on the press conference held today.

“By declaring these emergencies, we are better able to provide direction and ensure resources to first responders, hospitals, and members of the local medical community,” Fletcher continued. “We are better to quickly access medical supplies, hospital beds and have access to emergency funds at a local level.”

This update comes after health experts spoke Thursday about the “miscommunication” that led to a coronavirus patient mistakenly being released into the general quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, where dozens of U.S. citizens are being held for 14 days.

Nick Yphantides, county chief medical officer for San Diego County said UC San Diego still has seven individuals under their care. Two patients tested positive and five are pending results, all from the MCAS Miramar quarantine.

Out of those people from MCAS Miramar, a 3-year-old girl who was readmitted to the hospital tested negative for the coronavirus, county health officials confirmed on Friday.

Officials had updates and information on the status of patients being treated and the plan for the upcoming week.

The county also said they have seven San Diego County Residents who are persons under investigation for coronavirus. Five have tested negative and two of them are pending results.

Patty Maysent, CEO of UC San Diego Health provided updates on the two patients who tested positive saying one is doing well and the other is in fair condition.

Maysent continued saying patients or visitors at any UC San Diego hospital or clinic should not be worried about seeking medical attention.

“We want to assure the public that you are under no additional exposure risk by visiting any of our hospitals or our clinics, patients should feel confident in making and keeping their appointments,” Maysent said.

During the update, Eric McDonald, Medical Director of Epidemiology & Immunization Services at San Diego County said two individuals under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody were sent to Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center for evaluation.

“Two individuals in ICE custody were presented to us as possible persons under investigation. We still have test pending for those individuals and they remain under investigation,” McDonald said.

ICE sent NBC 7 the following statement:

"At this time, no ICE detainee has tested positive for the 2019 novel coronavirus at the Otay Mesa Detention Center or any other ICE facility. 

Out of the abundance of caution,  ICE is taking all necessary precautionary measures to ensure all ICE detainees are screened medically at their arrival to our facilities. Medical professionals at ICE detention facilities medically screen all new ICE detainees within 24 hours of their arrival to ensure that contagious diseases are not spread throughout the facility, and elsewhere. As an additional measure of defense, ICE detainees suspected of exposure or infection of certain diseases are medically “cohorted,” in line with CDC guidelines and ICE detention standards."

The county said those two patients are unlikely to test positive.

In summary, as of Feb. 14, the county said:

There are seven San Diego County residents "persons under investigation":

  • 5 tested negative
  • 2 are pending results

There are four non-residents located in the county:

  • 2 tested negative
  • 2 are pending results

There are 171 individuals that returned from China with no symptoms (low risk). At least 20 to 30 individuals are referred to each day to the CDC:

  • 48 cleared self-quarantined requirement time
  • 123 are still under monitoring (at home)
  • No individual has become a person under investigation

There are 13 San Diego residents who did not visit China but were next to people who were later confirmed coronavirus patients in the U.S.

  • 8 of those people were cleared
  • 4 are still being monitored
  • 1 became a person under investigation but later tested negative for coronavirus

Patients part of the MCAS Miramar quarantine:

  • There are 7 persons under investigation and staying at UC San Diego Medical Center
  • 2 of those tested positive
  • 4 are pending test results
  • 1 tested negative-- a 3-year-old tested at Rady Children's Hospital

ICE Custody:

  • 2 people in ICE custody were brought to Sharp Chula Vista they were evaluated and returned to ICE facilities in isolation.

The next meeting to further discuss the declaration will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 19 and officials will decide whether or not to extend the declaration for 30 days, Fletcher said.

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