Small groups walking on Torrey Pines Beach on Friday afternoon. Photo by Chris Jennewein

County officials on Friday urged San Diego-area residents to heed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order to stay at home but stressed that doesn’t mean avoiding the outdoors.

“If you’re sick, stay home. If you feel healthy, you can go outside,” said Supervisor Greg Cox. “You can exercise; you can jog; you can fly a kite. Yesterday was the first day of spring, so hopefully the weather is going to be a little more accomodating.”

“But we want you to keep that six-foot distance between each other, and we want you to say together as family units,” said Cox, who spoke at the daily media briefing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials said activities that can be safe with social distancing are walking your dog, hiking in an open field, and even playing on an empty tennis court.

The press conference came before the daily update of total coronavirus cases. Total cases grew by 26 to 131, including 110 San Diego County residents, 11 people in the federal quarantine at Miramar, and 10 non-residents, who are primarily Navy personnel.

Asked about hospital preparations, county Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Yphantides said civilian facilities in the county have 8,500 total beds, including about 600 for intensive care, and 800 ventilators, which are needed for the most severe cases of coronavirus disease.

Cox said public agencies and private institutions were rallying to prepare for the eventual increase in cases. He said the effort is reminiscent of how the county reacted to devastating wildfires in 2003 and 2007.

“The county is better prepared that we ever have been in the past for a crisis of this magnitude,” he said.

Updated at 5:55 p.m., Friday, March 20, 2020

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.