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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

San Diego County Moves Into State's 'Yellow Tier'

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San Diego County moves into California's least restrictive "Yellow tier" this morning, following two consecutive weeks of an adjusted new daily COVID-19 case rate of fewer than two cases per 100,000 residents, county officials announced.

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego County is officially in the yellow tier as of today. Thanks to big drops in the rate of new COVID-19 infections. That's good news for businesses. Yellow is the least restrictive tier here to tell us what being in the yellow tier means for San Diego County is KPBS health reporter, Matt Hoffman, Matt. Welcome. Hey Andrew. So how do we get into the yellow tier? And what changes does it make to the COVID-19 restrictions? Basically,

Speaker 2: 00:25 We got in the yellow tier by having a low case rate. You know, we w you know, Dr. Wooten said that we need to be averaging, you know, about a hundred cases per day to get here. And that's what we're averaging about a hundred cases per day. Um, so that drops us into the States at least restrictive to your end with that basically, you know, capacity increases not, not fully increases, um, but you know, for gyms, we're at 50% capacity bars, indoor 25% capacity restaurants up to 50% family entertainment centers, 50% even amusement parks, get to go up more outdoor events, indoor events, also big news for like the events industry. When we talk about weddings, um, they can have a lot more people now, um, at their outdoor and indoor gatherings, our

Speaker 1: 01:02 Vaccination rates have been credited for getting us this far and into the least restrictive tier. Where are we currently in terms of vaccinations? Right? So

Speaker 2: 01:10 Officials have a goal of getting 75% of those 12 and older vaccinated, and we are about 80% toward that goal. So almost there, but officials think that we are on a good path to reaching herd immunity,

Speaker 1: 01:21 But not we're only going to be in the yellow tier for about a week, right? Tell us what happens on June 15th,

Speaker 2: 01:27 Right? So on June 15th, you know, the state's blueprint for a safer economy that, that tier system, the color-coded tier system, we've hit every single tier from purple all the way to orange, all the way to yellow. Um, and basically that whole thing is going away. Now, there will be some restrictions that stay in place, but, you know, County supervisor, Nathan Fletcher basically said, you know, for the first time in more than a year, we're going to see, uh, basically a return to normalcy, June 15th,

Speaker 3: 01:49 San Diego County, we will align with the state, uh, the tears will be gone. Uh, they will be putting out, uh, some guidance for, for a handful of scenarios and situations, uh, but day to day life, uh, for, uh, San Diego, we'll revert to, uh, as close to normal as we've been, uh, in more than a year,

Speaker 2: 02:05 But you know, some experts like our County, public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten caution that we are still seeing cases. We are still seeing some hospitalizations and deaths and the pandemic is just simply not going away, right?

Speaker 4: 02:16 The pandemic is not over June 15th is, uh, not the magic date or bullet for, uh, declaring that the pandemic is over. It is not, we are still seeing cases, but things are slowing down and that's, what's

Speaker 1: 02:30 Important. So, so things are slowing down and that is certainly good. But what restrictions, if any, will remain in place after June 15th? Yeah.

Speaker 2: 02:40 So there are going to be some restrictions that remain in place, but a lot of that is for like big, you know, a big gathering. So we're talking about conventions, conferences and expos, um, and, and basically, you know, uh, large scale indoor events and even some outdoor events we'll have vaccination or negative test requirements for attendees through at least October 1st. And we know that there's a number of coming to the San Diego convention center, but that also impacts things like fairs. You know, we have the smaller scale down version of the fair coming up. Um, and also, um, for theme parks, amusement parks, and water parks and some sporting events,

Speaker 1: 03:11 It seems like a lot of businesses have been really eager to reopen as quickly as possible. And of course, they're looking ahead to that June 15th date and maybe jumping the gun a bed. Is this something you've noticed that businesses are kind of relaxing their restrictions, even though it might not be meeting the letter of the law in terms of what they're allowed to do. Right.

Speaker 2: 03:32 I can say just anecdotally myself, you know, I've seen, you know, packed bars that definitely are not at 50% capacity that you know, that they're not serving food. So not necessarily following the guidelines to a T, you know, but they are trying to keep people to have their masks on. Now, I will say, just even going to some sporting events here, um, it's a lot lats with the masks. You know, they say that you have to have them on, but nobody's walking around saying, Hey, you must have this on, what are you doing? So I think a lot of people when they heard sort of the CDC make that announcement in terms of people who are vaccinated, a lot of people kind of took their foot off the gas pedal there a little bit. But I think a lot of people, you know, now that we're less than one week away from this June 15th opening, um, some businesses are already thinking that we are there.

Speaker 1: 04:09 There was some other COVID-19 news that broke yesterday. A woman who had received the COVID-19 vaccine died from the disease. Can you put this in context for us? We know it's pretty uncommon, right? Yeah. He

Speaker 2: 04:22 Is pretty uncommon. Although we have seen some other, you know, people who have been vaccinated dying, but we know that this was a woman, an elderly woman who was in her seventies, who had some underlying conditions. So, so that may have contributed to her, her death as well. Although it is very unfortunate that she did pass away, um, County officials, we don't know yet, obviously there's a number of strains of concern that the CDC is looking at. You know, maybe, uh, these, some of these mutations that are less receptive to the vaccine. Um, and that's a possibility that she may be had one of those stronger strains. Um, they don't know that yet. So we're waiting to see, you know, if that might be the case, Andrew, you know, the CDC defines these rare instances as breakthrough cases, and those are infections or death after a person has completed everything.

Speaker 2: 05:02 And when I say everything, I mean all their vaccinations. And we do know, you know, the CDC says on their website that no vaccine is a hundred percent effective. Now these vaccines just compare it to the flu vaccines, you know, which are maybe 60% effective. You know, we're talking 94, 92% effective, so extremely effective. But the CDC does say that there will be a small percentage of fully vaccinated. People who still get sick and are hospitalized are who die from COVID-19. But we know that in general, the COVID-19 vaccines are very, very, very effective. And officials want people to get vaccinated.

Speaker 1: 05:32 I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter, Matt Hoffman, and Matt. Thanks for joining us. Thanks, Andrew.

Speaker 5: 05:46 [inaudible].

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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.