San Diego County health officials reported 401 new COVID-19 infections Monday, raising the region’s total to 60,570 cases as health officials await data from the state Tuesday which could send the county into the most restrictive purple tier of its four-tiered reopening plan.
Local officials will find out Tuesday whether the county will sink into that purple tier as state officials reported Wednesday that San Diego County had an unadjusted new daily coronavirus case rate of 8.7 per 100,000. The adjusted case rate had dropped to 7.4 per 100,000, above the baseline of 7, qualifying the state for the purple tier. Last week’s unadjusted case rate was 7.8 per 100,000.
In recent weeks, the region had an unadjusted rate well above the purple tier guidelines, but a significant effort to increase the volume of tests had allowed for an adjustment to bring it back to the red, or substantial, tier. Testing has decreased slightly and case numbers are on the rise. It is likely the county will officially enter the purple tier Tuesday afternoon.
The state data reflect the previous week’s case data to determine where counties stand.
According to the reopening plan, a county has to report data exceeding a more restrictive tier’s guidelines for two consecutive weeks before being moved to that tier. A county then has to be in that tier for a minimum of three weeks before it may move to a less restrictive tier.
San Diego County has been in the red tier for months, skirting but ultimately avoiding the purple tier, which would necessitate the closure of almost all indoor operations of nonessential businesses.
If the county cannot drop its adjusted daily case rate below 7 per 100,000, indoor operations in locations such as restaurants, museums, places of worship, breweries and retail businesses will have to either close entirely, move to outdoor operations only or modify in other ways.
Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said retail operations, including indoor shopping centers, will be limited to 25% of building capacity, down from the current 50%. Schools, unless they have already restarted in-person learning, will be restricted to distance learning. K-12 schools already in session can continue, Wooten said.
“Cases are increasing in the region and it is vital that we take this virus seriously and recommit ourselves to the strategies that are proven to work,” she said Thursday. “Wear a face covering when you go out in public, stay six feet away from others and avoid crowds and large gatherings.”
The county’s testing positivity rate actually improved, declining 0.3% from last week to reach 3.2%, but remains high enough for this metric to remain in the orange tier.
The state’s health equity metric, which looks at the testing positivity for areas with the least healthy conditions, increased from 5.1% to 5.3% and entered the red tier. This metric does not move counties backward to more restrictive tiers, but is required to advance.
No new deaths were reported Monday and the death toll remaining at 908.
Of the 10,608 tests reported Monday, 4% returned positive, raising the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 3.5%.
Of the total number of cases in the county, 4,062 — or 6.7% — have required hospitalization and 938 patients — or 1.5% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.
Three new community outbreaks were reported Monday, two in restaurant/bar settings and one in a business setting. Over the previous seven days, 39 community outbreaks were confirmed. A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.
— City News Service