San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer declared a State of Emergency in the city, effective March 12, in response to the coronavirus pandemic believed to have reached "community spread" status in San Diego County.
The declaration is in preparation for an influx of cases, Faulconer said. The county announced Thursday five people had tested presumptive positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of patients to six.
“We are all in this together; the entire region," Faulconer said.
With the declaration, city leaders can now issue emergency contracts and carry out other city business with less restriction, and can seek state and federal reimbursement for costs accrued during the emergency.
"This action is a procedural action to ensure that the city can act swiftly, without any unnecessary restrictions, should our status change," Faulconer said. "This declaration allows us to respond to situations as they arrive, and to respond quickly."
Screening procedures have been put in place at city homeless shelters, according to Faulconer.
Senior citizens age 65 or older are being advised to stay at home, and avoid travel and mass gatherings. The risk to younger, generally healthy people remains low, but those people should be cautious of their ability to transfer the virus to at-risk people, health officials said.
County leaders issued a public health order banning all gatherings of more than 250 people or more in San Diego County. The order will be in effect through the month of March
One of the county's newest COVID-19 patients may be the county's first case of community spread because of the patient's lack of travel to foreign countries.
“With these new positive cases, the evidence is pointing to the very likely reality that we have community spread here in San Diego County,” County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said. “This changes both our posture and also accelerates our action.”
“It’s neither convenient nor easy to operate in times of uncertainty. But we’re going to; we’re going to,” the mayor said. “All of the cities and the counties – united, in working together. We can control how we respond to this challenge.”