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County Reports 496 COVID-19 Cases, 13 Deaths As Newsom Praises Vaccine Effort

A patient gets vaccinated against COVID-19 at Border View Family YMCA in Otay Mesa, Calif. Feb. 24, 2021.
Matt Hoffman
A patient gets vaccinated against COVID-19 at Border View Family YMCA in Otay Mesa, Calif. Feb. 24, 2021.

Gov. Gavin Newsom toured a COVID-19 vaccination site in City Heights Friday, hailing San Diego for leading the way in the administration of vaccine doses, as county public health officials reported 496 new infections and 13 deaths.

The governor referenced the continuing statewide effort to deliver vaccines to the lowest-income communities hardest hit by the pandemic, saying nearly 3.7 million doses have been administered in such areas. He said the state will hit 4 million by next week, "which will allow cities and counties like San Diego to move more quickly through these tiers, ultimately getting to a green tier that we'll be talking a lot more about next week."

San Diego County remains in the red tier of the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which governs the reopening of businesses and recreational activities. The county's rate of daily new COVID-19 infections is still too high to advance to the less-restrictive orange tier. But when the state reaches the 4 million milestone of vaccinations in low-income communities, it will change the orange-tier threshold, making it easier for the county to advance — perhaps as early as next week.


Moving to the orange tier would allow the county to lift capacity restrictions at retail stores, increase capacity at businesses such as restaurants, movie theaters and fitness centers, while also increasing the number of fans permitted to attend Padres games at Petco Park.

California health officials announced changes Friday that will allow a resumption of indoor activities such as concerts, conferences and theater performances — and a return of fans to indoor sporting events.

The rules, however, include strict capacity mandates based on counties' tier placement within the state's economic-reopening blueprint, along with requirements for attendees to show proof of vaccination or negative COVID- 19 tests.

The new rules will take effect April 15 — subject to the approval of local health authorities, who are permitted in each county to impose stricter regulations than the state allows.

"Today's update to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy is a result of the progress we are making both in vaccinations and in controlling the spread of COVID-19," according to a statement from Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's Health and Human Services secretary. "By following public health guidelines such as wearing masks and getting vaccinated when eligible, we can resume additional activities as we take steps to reduce risk."


For the red tier San Diego is currently in, private events such as receptions or conferences outdoor gatherings can allow 50 people or up to 200 with vaccination/testing proof, while indoor gatherings of up to 100 people are permitted with vaccination/testing proof.

For indoor live events and performances, which state officials said includes sports arenas, theaters and other event venues, venues with a capacity of up to 1,500 people are limited to 10% or 100 people, and capacity increases to 25% if all guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination

For venues with capacity of 1,501 or higher in the red tier, capacity is limited to 20% with testing or vaccination proof required for all guests.

Friday's data increased the cumulative number of infections to 271,035 and the death toll remains at 3,568.

Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 increased to 201 from Thursday's reported 196. The number of patients in intensive care units decreased to 61.

Of the 18,435 tests reported Friday, 3% returned positive. The 14-day running average as tallied by the county is 2.3%.

Vaccines were made available to everyone in the state age 50 and older beginning Thursday, then will be available to everyone 16 and up on April 15, Newsom announced last week.

More than 1.88 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to San Diego County, according to the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency, and more than 975,000 San Diegans — or 36.3% — have received at least one dose of the two doses Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. A total of 586,575 people in the county — or 21.8% — are fully vaccinated.

These numbers include both county residents and those who work in San Diego County. The state's goal is to vaccinate 75% of people 16 and older to achieve herd immunity — around 2.02 million San Diegans.