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County to focus on COVID-19 cases in disadvantaged communities

Posted at 11:38 PM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-08 02:38:20-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego County health officials are focusing their efforts to reduce COVID-19 cases in hard-hit disadvantaged communities.

Since the state released its tiered reopening system, County officials have closely monitored case rates and positivity rates, the two metrics that move counties between restrictive and less restrictive tiers.

Now, the state has added a new metric relating to equity. It focuses on disadvantaged communities. The state looked at several factors that influence health in communities, including economics, education, transportation, social, neighborhood/environment, and housing conditions. The metric is meant to focus on those communities and their risk to COVID-19.

At a news conference Wednesday, County officials say they are working to create a plan to address equity and submit to the state next Thursday. They also say the state will release additional guidelines on Monday.

The county's health equity rate is at 6.2, which falls under the red tier. That number needs to drop below 5.2 to meet the orange tier criteria.

San Diego County is currently already operating in the red tier based on the other two metrics. The county's positivity rate is at 3.5, Which meets the criteria for the orange tier. But the county's state calculated adjusted case rate is 6.5 new daily infections per 100-thousand people, which falls in the red tier. The red tier allows many businesses to reopen their indoor operations, though at a limited capacity.

County officials said the new health equity metric does not play a factor in moving San Diego back into a restrictive tier. But it does play a role in moving to a less restrictive tier.

County health officials have been working to reduce COVID-19 cases in disadvantaged communities through outreach and education, testing, and contact tracing, but feel more could be done.

"Undoubtedly, there's more we can do," Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said. "So even though we've done all of those things and continue to do those things, we will continue to search out more opportunities to address the inequity issues in trying to help those communities who are most impacted."