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Some Prominent UCSD Faculty Want County To Slow Business Reopening

UC San Diego's campus is shown in this undated aerial photo.
UC San Diego
UC San Diego's campus is shown in this undated aerial photo.

Researchers and scientists are pushing for some restraint as county officials clear the way to reopen more businesses.

Some prominent San Diego researchers are urging San Diego County officials to hold off reopening more businesses until at least Oct. 1.

Nearly a dozen UC San Diego doctors and scientists sent a letter to the County Board of Supervisors on Monday outlining their concerns.

They say the county is on the right track and the falling rates of infection show that.

However, the academicians worry that opening a host of businesses before Labor Day will lead to a resurgence in the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths.

“Broadly re-opening activities immediately before the Labor Day holiday weekend and while K-12 schools are resuming instruction puts the County at risk of a resurgence, especially because we have only recently moved into the red phase and have not yet fully contained the outbreak,” the letter states. “We anticipate a rapid increase in case numbers (as happened after the Memorial Day and 4th of July holidays), and the subsequent re-closing of businesses and schools.”

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The researchers include Robert Shooley, Kim Prather and Kit Pogliano.

Robert Schooley (Distinguished Professor of Medicine, MD, UCSD)

Kimberly Prather (Distinguished Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry, PhD, UCSD)

Kit Pogliano (Dean, Division of Biological Sciences, PhD, UCSD)

Jennifer MacKinnon (Professor, SIO, PhD, SDUSD parent, UCSD)

Rebecca Fielding-Miller (Assistant Professor, Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity, MSPH PhD, UCSD)

Steffanie Strathdee (Harold Simon Professor of Medicine, Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, PhD, UCSD)

Thomas Patterson (Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, PhD, UCSD)

Helen Amanda Fricker (Professor, SIO, PhD, SDUSD parent, UCSD)

Matthew Alford (Professor, SIO, PhD, SDUSD parent, UCSD)

Ian Eisenman ((Professor, SIO, PhD, SDUSD parent, UCSD)

Fiamma Straneo (Professor, PhD, SDUSD parent, UCSD)

The faculty members pointed out that COVID-19 is an airborne infection that spreads easily indoors.

They also point out that COVID-19 is hitting parts of the county differently and some areas have infection rates too high to qualify for reopening under state guidelines.

“Residents of approximately two dozen historically underprivileged ZIP codes, primarily concentrated in south and east counties, shoulder significantly higher incidence rates,” said the letter. “For example, San Ysidro currently reports an average of approximately 35 new cases per 100,000 residents per day — 5 times higher than the prescribed 7 new cases to move from 'widespread' to 'substantial' risk, while Lemon Grove and La Mesa both consistently report over 10 new cases per 100,000 residents per day."

The scientists are calling on the county to delay reopening the businesses that just got approved to reopen to at least after the Labor Day holiday.

If that is not possible they want the county to impose strict mask enforcement over the holiday weekend.

Some Prominent UCSD Faculty Want County To Slow Business Reopening
Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.