San Diego County public health officials said Monday that 14 days of declining COVID-19 cases and new hospitalizations will be necessary before the county can begin reopening.
The new guidance came as Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s chief health officer, reported 57 new cases and one additional death.
So far there have been 2,325 cases, 72 deaths and a total of 33,904 tests administered. The latest victim was a woman in her mid 80s with underlying medical conditions.
Wooten said the two key metrics for reopening are 14-day downward trends in both the percentage of positive tests and the number of new hospitalizations. She shared charts that showed those trends beginning.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county is asking residents to abide by the stay-at-home order and other restrictions through at least the end of month as the county develops plans for a phased reopening.
“Even though we are beginning to discuss what it will look like when we come out of this, we’re not there yet,” he said during the county’s afternoon briefing on the pandemic.
Fletcher said the county was working on a number of plans in anticipation of reopening:
- Procedures for testing, tracing infections and isolating new outbreaks
- Metrics for when to reopen, and when to restrict again if infections grow
- Specific guidelines to cities for reopening parks and beaches while maintaining social distancing
- Rules that businesses must follow as they reopen
There were numerous questions about reopening beaches, and Fletcher said a number of options are under discussion with mayors of coastal cities. These include half-capacity parking, on-site security, and limiting groups to family units.
“Our hope is to lift the restrictions on passive recreation in the coming weeks,” he said.
Fletcher cautioned that while the county’s early actions put it in “a strong position” to begin removing restrictions, “we could easily throw away all of the progress and all of the sacrifices.”
Supervisor Greg Cox said that following the restrictions through the end of April is key to minimizing the long-term impact of the pandemic.
“Give us 10 more days. Give us an opportunity to take this month of April to get this disease — this pandemic — under control in San Diego County,” he said. “We’re doing better than most counties across the Untied States, but we’re not there yet as far as being able to remove the restrictions.”
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