State Data Shows San Diego County Regressing In Fight Against COVID-19
Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego data Watchers are keeping a very close eye on the COVID-19 numbers. As case rates hovered, dangerously close to the line, it would trigger returning to stricter restrictions less than two weeks ago. San Diego County made it into the state so-called red tier that allows certain indoor businesses to reopen. But this week, a sudden spike in cases at San Diego state added to concerns that those freedoms could be withdrawn. Paul system covers healthcare with the San Diego union Tribune. Thanks for joining us, Paul, thanks for having me. So you are one of those data Watchers, bring us up to speed. The County released new coronavirus data's numbers yesterday. How is San Diego County doing Speaker 2: 00:39 Yesterday? Uh, the state released the first of what will now be a weekly report every Tuesday, letting every County in the state know where they stand in this, uh, hierarchical list of four different tiers. Uh, we're we're currently in the red tier, uh, at second from the bottom. Uh, and so everybody's wanting to know, you know, are we going to move up to a higher tier that gives us more freedoms to reopen businesses and, and such, or are we going to fall back down and lose some of those abilities to move businesses, bank and doors, uh, that we have, uh, just gained as of last week when this new system was announced by the governor. So what we saw in yesterday's report for San Diego was maintaining at the current red tier, uh, for another week. You do have to be in a tier for three weeks before you can move up. However, if you don't continue to meet the metrics of your current tier for two straight weeks, then you can fall down to the bottom again. So, uh, that's kind of the issue at the moment as we see case rates increasing in San Diego, it's a, it's a case where we might end up in a situation where we could fall back down. Speaker 1: 01:49 So can you be a little specific about the case rates, which is one of the numbers everyone's watching, Speaker 2: 01:53 Right. So there are two different numbers, uh, that the state has used kind of as a proxy to determine whether Corona virus is spreading in your community or not. Uh, one is a number of cases per a hundred thousand residents. The other is the percentage of tests that are coming back positive. San Diego is a currently rated to be at 6.9 cases, per hundred thousand residents. And if it gets up to 7.1 for two weeks in a row, then it would fall back down a tier. Uh, so, so we saw this week, the number move up, uh, from 5.8 to 6.9. So indeed we are watching these rather arcane numbers. The governor told us his system was going to be more simple than his watch list was to understand, but, but so far it does seem to require a watching a lot of numbers move in a spreadsheet. Speaker 1: 02:46 So just to be clear, if the case rate jumps to 7.1 and stays there for two consecutive weeks, then indoor businesses could shut down. Again. It is that summarizing it correctly would lose some Speaker 2: 03:00 Of the current ability, uh, you know, uh, restaurants and, and, uh, churches and, uh, movie theaters have all been allowed under this red tier to get some percentage of their indoor space back and start using it again. Uh, many of those would fall back to having to operate outdoors. Again, if we fell down a rung on the ladder here, Speaker 1: 03:21 Bigger share of that rising case rate has to do with the increasing number of COVID-19 cases among students at San Diego state university, Speaker 2: 03:29 I would say very little, and that is due to a, another complexity here on how the state calculates these tiers. Uh, they have a seven day lag, uh, on the numbers. So they count back when the, when they're, when they're calculating our percentage of positive tests and our, our number of cases per a hundred thousand residents they're discarding the previous seven days. Uh, so the, the calculation that the state did for Tuesday's report actually looked at cases and, and such from August 23rd through August 29th. Uh, and so we know that a SDSU was first day back for their fall semester was August 24th. Uh, so some of those cases would be in there, but I think, uh, the there's probably hundreds that have occurred in the past week and, uh, and would not be included. Speaker 1: 04:20 So as someone who's watching the data very carefully, are you concerned at all about the fact that UCF still has to go back, uh, you know, the beginning of the academic year? Could that impact the number? Speaker 2: 04:30 Yeah, it certainly can. Uh, there is a big open question right now about whether college kids should count in these state metrics. Uh, and that is because so far, uh, there really hasn't been much if any hospitalization of the kids that have gotten sick, especially at SDSU, uh, dr. McDonald, uh, told me in an email last night that of the 400, uh, confirmed and probable cases out of SDSU, not a single one of them has been hospitalized. And I heard from him over the weekend that, uh, San Diego and some other health departments are actually asking the state to consider perhaps not including college kids in these calculations, because they don't seem to really have the same community-wide transmission pattern as the community as a whole does. So that's kind of an open question, whether the state will suddenly say, yeah, we're gonna, we're gonna cut out the college kids, uh, as they've done, uh, for, um, people who are in incarcerated, for example, uh, the, the notion there is that these, uh, these folks who are incarcerated aren't mingling with the general community. So we ought not to count them as a measure of community spread. Speaker 1: 05:40 Paul, bring us up to date on where the figures are on hospitalizations and deaths in San Diego. How are we doing? Speaker 2: 05:47 Right? People are still getting hospitalized daily, uh, for this disease. Um, but the numbers have continued for the most part remain under 300 people at any given time hospitalized in our 20 something hospitals throughout the County. That's a couple hundred less than we had at the peak. So we can say that over time, there really has been a lessening of impact on local hospitals. That's also, uh, you know, do continue. Uh, we saw two in yesterday's report, uh, and, um, you know, they continue to be among folks who are older and tend to have a other co-occurring health conditions, uh, that has been kind of a steady through current throughout the pandemic and San Diego and the nation so far. And that really, I guess it's less than maybe a little bit, but it's still a pretty strong through Corinda and people are still are dying from this, uh, you know, pretty regularly. Speaker 1: 06:50 So finally, Paul, the data comes out every week, is that right? And it's unlikely. We would change into a different tier before two weeks were up. Speaker 2: 07:00 That's right. So, uh, if we, if we were, uh, next week to, uh, fall into the, to the lowest tier of the purple tier, we would have to then have that same situation the following week and only after two consecutive weeks, would we then move down? Speaker 1: 07:18 Well, thanks so much for helping us to understand this very complex situation fall. Thank you for having me. That's Paul CISM, who covers healthcare with the San Diego union Tribune. Speaker 3: 07:32 [inaudible].