The COVID-19 epidemic is the worst epidemic since the 1918 “Spanish Flu.” The coronavirus that causes the disease is highly transmissible and the number of infected individuals in the U.S. now exceeds any other country including China. Even though the mortality rate is currently between 1-2%, the number of deaths in the U.S. now exceeds 2,700 (as of March 30th). The number of new infections per day continues to increase exponentially in the U.S. Cases in California are currently increasing at a slower pace, with an average of 700 new cases per day.
California was the first state to order its residents to stay home and to practice social isolation by staying at least 6 feet away from others. The experience during the COVID-19 epidemic in South Korea proved that these steps led to many fewer new infections after a 2-week lag period. This delay was because the incubation period of the virus is 10-12 days, so people infected prior to home isolation would continue to present with symptoms for up to 2 weeks.
Del Mar has taken the home isolation order seriously, as well we should. COVID-19 has a much higher mortality in seniors over 65, and nearly 1000 of our residents are in that risk group. The early results of our compliance with social distancing are encouraging. While the infection continues to spread in San Diego County, Del Mar has been steady at 6 confirmed cases for the last 3 days (again, as of March 30th). However, remember the 2-week incubation period. We will not know how effective our measures have been for another 10 days.
The parks and beaches have been closed in Del Mar and most other coastal cities. Why? The weekend of March 21-22 was the first break in the nasty weather and the beaches were crowded with little evidence of social distancing. It only takes one infected person, whether experiencing any symptoms or not, to start a new transmission chain. ONLY ONE PERSON!
That means that we have to be 100% compliant to stop new infections. Lesser compliance may delay the onset of more infections, but they will come.
Del Mar is a tight-knit community with many long-time residents. We support each other as neighbors and through our local non-profits. Del Mar Community Connections, the Del Mar Foundation, the Del Mar Village Association, the Rotary Club, and St. Peter’s are all upping their game to support residents who are sheltering in place. We need each other to get through this unprecedented challenge. Let’s keep working together (with 6 ft. distancing) and there will be light at the end of this dark tunnel.