Crowds flocked to San Diego beaches Friday for the July 4th weekend as local positive coronavirus cases surged.
San Diego County beaches are among the only open stretches of coast line in Southern California. Officials closed most others in response to mounting positive cases.
On Friday, lifeguard officials from Encinitas and Del Mar reported crowd estimates on par with or greater than those from years past.
“Our beach population today is about 30% to 35% more than it was the same day last year,” Encinitas Marine Safety Captain Larry Giles said.
Locals tell me they’re not used to seeing this many people at Carlsbad #beach. Many folks are out of towners, some locals tell me they’re taking a quick stroll and then avoiding the beach this weekend. Our story @nbcsandiego #beaches #holidayweekend pic.twitter.com/CqnShIOINr
— Melissa Adan (@MelissaNBC7) July 3, 2020
He added that not all beachgoers are maintaining social distance. He called the crowds a “mixed bag” of those remaining socially distant and those not doing so.
Encinitas lifeguards will provide a free mask to anyone who requests one. They also will remind people to keep their distance over the PA system. Giles ordered all fire pits closed on the beach as well.
Del Mar beaches saw similarly large crowds Friday, according to Marine Safety Deputy Chief Mark Rathsam.
Judging from the long lines at the bathroom and drone surveillance, Rathsam estimated crowds were larger than normal for a July 3. He did note that drone footage showed a majority of beachgoers in Del Mar maintaining six feet of distance.
“There isn’t any parking for a mile,” Rathsam said, noting it’s surprising, given the pandemic.
The I-5 freeway today! People are traveling from Los Angeles and other areas of California to celebrate Fourth of July in America’s Finest City where the beaches and restaurants are still open. From Ric Militi Facebook post pic.twitter.com/AVdRcIHoCl
— KUSI News (@KUSINews) July 3, 2020
Both Rathsam and Giles said the sunny weather and strong surf were a factor in the large crowds. They also credited the fact that San Diego offered open beaches while nearby cities and counties had closed theirs for the weekend.
At the southern end of San Diego County, Coronado also saw larger-than-normal beach attendance. City of Coronado Lifeguard Captain Sean Carey reported an estimate of 30,000 beachgoers, which he called an increase from years past.
San Diego County health officials reported a total of 15,696 COVID-19 cases Friday, with 387 deaths. There were 1,849 hospitalizations, with 503 people in intensive care.
– City News Service
Updated at 9:55 p.m., with Coronado numbers.
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