Despite increasing coronavirus numbers, San Diego County will not regress into the most restrictive purple tier of California’s economic-reopening guidelines, state health secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced Tuesday.
The county is also posting a low 3.8% positive testing rate for the disease — well within the lower orange guideline of the state’s four-tier reopening system — but it’s the higher of the two metrics that counts.
Ghaly said the county will hover between the less-restrictive red category into the most restrictive purple unless the case rate declines further.
“We certainly see a county that is hovering around that threshold between red and purple, but we continue to have conversations about how we at the state can support San Diego, as well as understanding more and more what San Diego is doing around places like San Diego State University to curtail or limit transmission,” he said.
After a period of declining cases, San Diego’s numbers jumped because of an outbreak at San Diego State University, with over 800 confirmed cases so far.
Ghaly said those numbers were included in the state’s latest assessment, adding that “there were no concessions made based on their data.”
Moving to the purple tier would shutter indoor operations for restaurants, movie theaters, houses of worship and gyms, limit retail businesses to just 25% capacity and have other major impacts.
The county Board of Supervisors met multiple times in the past several days to discuss taking potential action should that happen, including possible legal action.
“It is because of the efforts of most San Diegans that the county is able to remain in the red tier,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “The only way for the case rate to continue going down is if all local residents take the necessary precautions to avoid getting and spreading COVID-19.”
Following the state’s announcement, the county reported 222 new cases of coronavirus, 29 of which were among San Diego State University students.
There were also five more deaths. The latest victims were three men and two women aged from their mid 50s to early 60s.
Since the first local case in March, there have been 997,063 tests performed in San Diego County, resulting in 45,147 cases and 765 deaths.
Updated at 6:55 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020
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