Mark Kersey told a personal story of loss Friday to encourage young people not to feel invincible regarding COVID-19. File photo by Chris Stone

San Diego leaders urged locals Friday to heed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other officials acknowledged though that residents have observed official directives to self-isolate to avoid overburdening hospitals and emergency services.

Faulconer said the city has seen “unprecedented cooperation” from residents.

San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit and San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Colin Stowell echoed those sentiments. They said that so far, residents have heeded calls to stay inside, which they said helps first responders. It also  keeps them safe from potential exposure to COVID-19.

Nisleit said the police department has seen an 11% decrease in calls for service this past week, a sign that San Diegans had complied with local orders.

Faulconer asked residents to stay the course following the governor’s executive order Thursday.

California’s stay-at-home directive will remain in place “until further notice,” according to Gov. Newsom. His order limits Californians to only leave home for “essential” purposes such as food, medical care and work or if it is deemed “essential critical infrastructure.

“This is how we slow (the virus) down. This is how we stop the spread,” Faulconer said during a Friday afternoon news conference at City Hall.

Faulconer also called on residents to adhere to new restrictions at the U.S.-Mexico border. The countries mutually agreed to restrict nonessential travel at the southern border crossing starting Saturday.

“San Diego residents and businesses depend on a fully functioning border. No one believes that more than me,” Faulconer said. “I also believe people come first. So right now, we must put the health and safety of all people at the forefront of our decision making.”

City Councilman Mark Kersey shared his own personal loss to emphasize that younger residents are not immune to COVID-19.

Kersey’s brother died of the H1N1 virus six years ago at the age of 37. Though otherwise healthy, he was overworked and did not get a flu shot. He also “didn’t heed the first signs” of his illness, Kersey said.

On Friday, county officials announced during their daily update that a 19-year-old had tested positive for the virus, marking the county’s youngest COVID-19 patient so far.

– City News Service

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