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Mayor Faulconer Directs All Available City Property to Support a COVID-19 Patient Surge

Mayor and Scripps Hospital CEO Urge San Diegans to Stay At Home to Prevent Overwhelmed Emergency Rooms

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 - NEWS RELEASE

San Diego – As San Diego continues to take aggressive steps against the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer today formally announced a directive to offer all available City property to accommodate the expected surge in COVID-19 patients. The Mayor was joined by Scripps Health President & CEO Chris Van Gorder and Dr. Joelle Donofrio-Odmann, medical director of emergency medical services at Rady Children’s Hospital and assistant medical director for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Mayor Faulconer and medical health professionals urged residents not to become complacent about physical distancing rules. San Diegans can help prevent local hospitals from becoming overcrowded by following public health directives that prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“Every San Diegan has the power to help hospitals from being overwhelmed by continuing to stay at home. If we let our guard down now, all the sacrifices we have made so far will be lost,” Mayor Faulconer said. “I’ve issued this order in anticipation, and in expectation, that our hospitals will need all the help our community can offer. Any hospital that needs support will have a friend in the City of San Diego.”

On Monday Mayor Faulconer signed an Executive Order declaring City employees as disaster service workers and directing other critical actions including offering available City property for surge capacity. For example, vacant parking lots owned by the City could be utilized for field hospitals, equipment staging, conducting medical tests or other activities. Libraries and recreation centers, which were closed to the public last month, are other potential properties that could be used.

Van Gorder published an open letter last week, titled “Complacency is the Enemy,” that urged more action to contain the spread of COVID-19. He called for further tightening of “stay-at-home” orders and reprioritizing which companies and services are considered essential.

“I am genuinely worried for our community and its health care system, as so many people are still out doing business-as-usual,” said Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder, who is responsible for five hospital campuses in the region. “A spike like the one occurring in New York would overwhelm us. As predicted by public health and our own data, we are just starting to see the spike here. I applaud our county and city for taking the actions they have – these are unpopular but courageous actions designed to protect us all.  But we must not be complacent and we should be ready to do even more to flatten the curve.”

According to the letter, Scripps Health estimates it will be overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients in a matter of weeks if stronger action is not taken. Without any physical distancing or other mitigation efforts, Scripps is projecting the need to care for over 12,000 patients concurrently at the peak, which far exceeds its 1,200 bed capacity. With a 30 percent success rate in physical distancing, Scripps still anticipates up to 8,000 concurrent patients requiring and competing for care at Scripps by June.

“Let’s continue to fight the good fight, continue to prevent spread and break the chain of infection by maintaining social distance, washing our hands and staying away from others when you are sick,” said Dr. Joelle Donofrio-Odmann. “We are holding strong, but the curve has not hit us yet and we need to keep up our fight for the long run. Together, we can save lives.”

The rapid spread of COVID-19 is likely due to the movement of people who are unaware they have contracted the virus — either because they had mild symptoms or because they had no symptoms at all. Physical distancing lessens the chances of catching COVID-19, prevents spreading the illness to others and reduces the likelihood of overburdening hospitals and emergency services.

For more information on the California “Stay At Home” order, including what’s closed, what’s open and which industries are exempted by the state, please visit COVID19.ca.gov.

For information regarding COVID-19 cases and directives from County of San Diego public health officials, please visit coronavirus-sd.com. Text “COSD COVID19” to 468-311 for text alert updates.

For the updates on City of San Diego services, programs, links to helpful information and steps the public can take to help reduce the spread of the disease, please visit sandiego.gov/coronavirus.

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