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No Action From County Board As San Diego Waits For State Data

Supervisor Jim Desmond, business owners and supporters rally in front of the ...

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: Supervisor Jim Desmond, business owners and supporters rally in front of the San Diego County Administration Center on Sept. 21, 2020, calling for more local control over businesses reopening during the pandemic and rejecting Gov. Gavin Newsom's color-coded four-tier reopening plan.

San Diego County awaits data from the state Tuesday which could potentially place San Diego in the "purple tier," the state's most restrictive.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors met in closed session Monday to discuss potential action should the state data indicate the county will be placed in the purple tier, including legal action.

The board also met Thursday night to discuss its options after Gov. Gavin Newsom rejected a county effort Wednesday to discount the more than 800 positive tests recorded by San Diego State University since the semester began.

To facilitate expanded COVID-19 testing at San Diego State University, the county testing site at Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach will be temporarily closed through Friday. Testing there will resume Sept. 28.

Testing capacity at the SDSU Alumni Center at 5250 55th St. is being expanded from 500 to 1,000 tests a day and will be open to the public, students and university staff. The no-appointment site will offer testing from 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. through Friday.

RELATED: SDSU Outbreak Threatens San Diego's Economic Recovery

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher was vague about the closed meeting Thursday, but urged caution.

"In general, I believe we should be fighting COVID-19 and not the state of California," he said. "We do not yet know what our case rate will be next Tuesday and will have to evaluate that number in order to understand any possible impact."

If the county does slip back to the purple tier of the state's coronavirus reopening roadmap, it would likely shutter indoor operations for restaurants, movie theaters, houses of worship and gyms, limit retail businesses to just 25% capacity and have major impacts on indoor business for most other industries until the county can improve its numbers.

Should the county be placed in that tier, it would have to wait a minimum of three weeks before moving back to less restrictive tiers.

If the state data announced today shows the county has an average daily new case rate of 7 per 100,000 population or higher, it will likely be moved into the purple tier.

However, if the numbers from the university were removed from the equation, San Diego County would suddenly drop below the mark to remain in the red tier.

SDSU has reported 880 confirmed or probable cases, including two reports of faculty or staff who have tested positive.

County public health officials reported 348 new COVID-19 infections and no new deaths on Monday, raising the region's total cases to 44,925 with the death toll remaining at 760.

Of the 6,374 tests reported on Monday, 5% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 3.7%.

The seven-day daily average of tests is 8,440.

Of the total positive cases reported as of Sunday, 3,418 — or 7.6% — required hospitalization and 801 — or 1.8% — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

One new community outbreak in a restaurant was confirmed Monday. From Sept. 14-20, 22 community outbreaks were confirmed.

The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman contributed to this story

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