San Diego Removed From State Watch List; Schools Could Open Sept. 1
San Diego County has officially been removed from the state's COVID-19 monitoring list, setting in motion a 14-day countdown that could see K-12 students back in the classroom as soon as Sept. 1, depending on the guidance of individual school districts.
The announcement comes as San Diego County public health officials reported a case rate of 88.4 positive COVID-19 tests per 100,000 people on Tuesday, below the state's 100 per 100,000 guideline.
No other businesses can reopen until the state provides further guidance.
The county will be placed back on the list should it be flagged for exceeding any one of six different metrics for three consecutive days. Those metrics are the case rate, the percentage of positive tests, the average number of tests a county is able to perform daily, changes in the number of hospitalized patients and the percentage of ventilators and intensive care beds available.
County health officials reported 202 new positive cases and seven deaths from the illness Tuesday, raising the region's totals to 35,162 cases and 633 deaths.
Two women and five men died between Aug. 14-16 and they ranged in age from their early 60s to early 90s.
Of the 5,584 tests reported Tuesday, 4% returned positive, lowering the 14-day rolling average to 4.1%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The 7- day rolling average of tests is 7,878 daily.
Of the total positive cases in the county, 2,890 — or 8.2% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 719 — or 2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.
County health officials reported no new community outbreaks Tuesday, dropping the number of outbreaks in the past week to 15. The county continues to keep the names and locations of businesses with outbreaks secret.
The number of community outbreaks remains well above the county's goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households in the past 14 days.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Tuesday that the city would begin allowing gyms, fitness businesses and places of worship to operate in city parks beginning Monday.
"There is no city better than San Diego to take advantage of the fact that COVID-19 has a harder time spreading outdoors. Using parks as part of our pandemic relief response will help the mental health and physical health of thousands of San Diegans," Faulconer said.
Last month, the county announced it was reformatting its testing priorities to focus more on vulnerable populations such as those over the age of 60, those with underlying medical conditions and first responders. It is unclear if the scope of the reported testing and rapidly declining case rates in the past several weeks were showing a true picture of the pandemic's spread, particularly as community outbreaks continue to be the only county metric still flagged as "abnormal."
Latinos are still disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, with that ethnic group representing 62% of all hospitalizations and 45.7% of all deaths due to the illness. Latinos make up about 35% of San Diego County's population.