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San Diego County Will Remain In Red COVID-19 Tier

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This news comes as somewhat of a surprise after increasing COVID-19 numbers appeared to set the county on a path toward slipping into that most restrictive tier.

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego County is hovering perilously close to the line between the red tier and the purple tier of COVID-19 restrictions. The latest news is that the region has not been moved down into the more restrictive purple tier, but here to bring us up to date on the latest news is KPBS reporter, Matt Hoffman, Matt, thank you for joining us.

Speaker 2: 00:19 Hey Alison.

Speaker 1: 00:21 So now the San Diego County supervisors met last night and it does look like San Diego has dodged a bullet. Do we know how close we came to being moved from the red tier down to the purple tier?

Speaker 2: 00:32 Well, it looks like we came really, really close. Cause if you look at the state's website, which was just updated, uh, just a few minutes ago, um, our adjusted case rate it says is 6.9. And so the bar for the red tier is seven. So we slid in just under that bar. Now we had a week where we had seven, uh, our adjusted case rate was 7.9, which was, that was a week of purple data. But keep in mind, we need two weeks of tier data to move to your, so that's why County officials were thinking with, uh, some of these San Diego state cases that we could be moving to that purple tier today, but it looks like we just slid right under the bar 6.9. Uh, whereas you needed a 7.0 or higher to move out of the red tier.

Speaker 1: 01:11 Okay. Remind us, what would it have meant if we had dropped to a different tier and it's something that we're trying to avoid in the future?

Speaker 2: 01:18 Yeah. If we had dropped to the state's most restrictive tier, we would have seen a clamp down on indoor businesses. So that means everything from nail salons to tattoo shops, massage parlors, uh, restaurants, uh, churches, movie, theaters, gyms, they would all have to close down their indoor operations. Now some places would still be able to stay open like hair salons and barbershops, indoor retail, and some indoor shopping centers at a very limited capacity, but it would really clamp down on indoor operations and drive a lot of, uh, business operations outside, which some business owners are a little wary of, especially as we get toward, um, some expected, uh, wet, wet months ahead.

Speaker 1: 01:53 Okay. Now we know that Los Angeles is already in the purple tier. Uh, do we know how other counties around the state are doing in this latest? A reassessment of the data?

Speaker 2: 02:03 Yeah. So just looking at the state's latest assessment, I mean, Riverside County, they are in the red tier, uh, orange County is in the red tier, but yeah, you mentioned it above us, you know, Ventura County, LA County, Santa Barbara County, Kern County, all in the purple tier. And then obviously as you move up to the top, there's a lot more orange, but, uh, so we're not, uh, completely isolated down here in Southern California as the only County in the red tier.

Speaker 1: 02:29 No, the governor turned down the county's request last week to separate out the COVID cases of San Diego state university students from the overall count. And there's growing concern that the number of students testing positive for COVID could push us into the purple tier. What are the SDSU numbers looking like now?

Speaker 2: 02:47 So w we know that they have been growing. I mean, right now it's at 880 students to faculty and staff on the main campus. Now it's not growing as fast as, as it was before, but yeah, you heard County officials saying last week, Hey, this, these cases from SDSU are pushing us over the top. Now SDSU has sort of pushed back on that a little bit, but it really all at this point seems to not matter at all, because we've slid under that bar, so to speak where we're staying in the red tier, um, and what that could mean for the County. That could mean no legal action. Um, from the board of supervisors who have been meeting and close session, um, to discuss what their next steps would be should, uh, you know, another round of closures, a third round becoming four San Diego businesses,

Speaker 1: 03:28 One of the supervisors who was most opposed to going to the purple tears supervisor Jim Desmond, and he's launching a petition drive today. What effect, if any, could that have?

Speaker 2: 03:37 Yeah. So supervisor Jim Desmond, he is looking to take back local control. Some of his other board colleagues, majority of them actually have said that they don't want to count these San Diego state cases because they believe it's an isolated population just blocks away from the university and they think there's been minimal transmission, uh, to non-students. So he's advocating for local control. Let the County board make the decisions in terms of reopening. They know the situation on the ground. Uh, you know, he was up in North County today basically saying, you know, why should businesses way up here in Carlsbad Encinitas, you know, have to suffer for, you know, an explosion of cases, um, in the college area. So he, he just wants to take back local control from the state.

Speaker 1: 04:17 And it does appear that our board of supervisors is somewhat divided on this issue of reopening businesses. Tell us what to Nathan Fletcher, supervisor Nathan Fletcher did yesterday.

Speaker 2: 04:27 Yeah, we, we saw him, uh, he was leading a coalition basically saying, Hey, look, the state has said that they are not going to knock off these San Diego state cases. They are a part of our community. And he's saying, look, we're not fighting the state. We're fighting a Corona virus. And, uh, he sort of, you know, says that a supervisor Desmon, um, is misleading people and sort of like preying on their emotions, um, to, uh, to try to get them fired up about an issue. But, uh, he says that, um, they're going after the wrong issue, you know, it shouldn't be fighting the state. It should be let's work on a longterm plan to keep virus rates, transmission down so that we're not going on this roller coaster ride. You know, this would have been the third closure, uh, for restaurants and other indoor businesses. And they say that it's just not sustainable. You know, the food in their walking spoils. Um, they, it's so hard to, to bring back staff. And, uh, they're just a lot of them probably happy that we're staying in the red tier. Now a lot of them say 25% capacity for restaurants, 10% for gyms. It's not sustainable, but it's better than nothing.

Speaker 1: 05:23 And Matt, when do we run this gauntlet, this data going into it as it were again.

Speaker 2: 05:28 Yeah. So every Tuesday the state releases its numbers and keep in mind, we have to have two weeks of data to move tears. Um, so like, like dr. Wooten was saying the County public health officer, we had one week of purple tier data last week. And if we had that, uh, next week of purple tier data, which came out today, then we would have slid into that purple tier restrictions would have come on Friday. Um, so we'll see next Tuesday where we stand, but we have to have two straight weeks of data to move tears.

Speaker 1: 05:55 Okay. We've been speaking with KPBS reporter, Matt Hoffman, Matt. Thanks so much for joining us.

Speaker 2: 06:00 Thanks, Alison.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.