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County Moves To Orange Tier; 328 New COVID-19 Cases, 3 Deaths Confirmed

Restaurant workers in Old Town San Diego wear facial coverings due to COVID-19 restrictions in this undated photo.
Bennett Lacy
Restaurant workers in Old Town San Diego wear facial coverings due to COVID-19 restrictions in this undated photo.

San Diego County moved into the less-restrictive orange tier of the state's coronavirus reopening system Wednesday and a 10 p.m. curfew for all restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and wineries in place since July was lifted as public health officials reported 328 new infections and three deaths.

The county was able to move to the orange tier because the state administered 4 million vaccinations in low-income communities hardest hit by the pandemic. That goal triggered an adjustment of the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy, allowing San Diego County — which has reported fewer than 6 cases per every 100,000 residents for the last two weeks — to move up.

The orange tier includes restaurants being able to operate at 50% of capacity — or 200 customers, whichever is fewer — while bars without food service may begin outdoors operations. Museums, zoos, aquariums, movie theaters and places of worship may have 50% of capacity indoors.


Amusement parks may increase attendance to 25% of capacity for in- state visitors. Gyms, bowling alleys and family entertainment centers can allow 25% capacity indoors and indoor pools can reopen.

Sporting events, concerts and other live events can increase attendance to 33% of capacity for in-state fans. There will be no capacity limits for indoor retail shopping.

Wednesday's COVID-19 data increased the county's cumulative totals to 272,194 cases and 3,588 since the pandemic began.

The three deaths were men who died between March 3 and March 21. One was in his 80s, one in his 70s and one in his 60s, health officials said.

Of the 14,322 tests reported Wednesday, 2% returned positive. The 14- day running average as tallied by the county is 2.2%.


More than 2.06 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to San Diego County, according to the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency, and 1,066,410 county residents — or 39.7% — have received at least one dose of the two-dose vaccines.

A total of 625,632 people in San Diego County — or 23.3% — 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 Diego County residents.

Seven new community outbreaks were reported Wednesday: three in business settings, two in grocery/retail settings, one in a faith-based setting and one in a restaurant/bar setting.

On a broader scale, California health officials said Tuesday that all state COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, gatherings and recreational activities will be lifted June 15, although a mask mandate will remain in place.

The June 15 date could be adjusted if the state begins over the next two months to experience rises in hospitalization numbers or a sudden lack of vaccine supply. Officials urged all residents to ensure the move occurs on time by continuing to practice infection-control measures.

Both San Diego State University and UC San Diego detailed plans Wednesday to return to in-person learning for the fall semester. UCSD initially announced the change Monday before providing more details Wednesday. UCSD officials said they expects around 90% of students and 85% of on-site staff to be fully vaccinated by the fall quarter. Campus residence halls will be at near 100% occupancy, with no more than two students per room, according to a UCSD statement.

Facial coverings will still be required in all public spaces, while physical distancing guidelines are expected to be reduced from six feet to three feet in most settings.

Nearly 10,000 students have been living on campus since fall 2020, while thousands more living off campus have attended daily in-person classes. During that time, the school boasts an infection rate of less than .05% among those students, according to the university.

SDSU had fewer details readily available, but announced plans to share updated guidance next week for faculty members and researchers intended to allow them to gain increased access to their on-campus research and academic spaces this spring. A more comprehensive return to academic spaces is expected in late summer, according to SDSU officials.

Over the next few weeks, deans and associate deans will be working with department chairs, school directors and instructional faculty to explore options and update the course schedule as appropriate.

The SDSU fall schedule release has been pushed back to May 10 from April 12, and fall registration has been shifted from April 19 to May 25 to allow for more time formulating schedules.