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San Diego County stays in red under state's COVID-19 tier system

Virus Outbreak Testing Guidelines
Posted at 10:27 AM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-13 16:23:50-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego County will remain in the red tier of the state's four-tier COVID-19 reopening plan for at least another week, the California Department of Public Health confirmed Tuesday.

The county's state-calculated, adjusted case rate is 6.8 daily infections per 100,000 residents, up from 6.7 the previous week. The unadjusted case rate was 7.2, up from 7 last Tuesday. The adjusted rate is due to San Diego County's high volume of tests, but still leaves the county on the precipice of the state's most restrictive tier -- purple.

The testing positivity percentage is 3%, considerably less than last week, and that number would qualify for the third -- or orange -- tier.

To remain in the red tier, the county must continue to have an adjusted case rate of less than 7.0 per 100,000 residents and a testing positivity percentage of less than 5%.

A new metric the state released Tuesday is the health equity metric, which finds the positivity rate of the county's least healthy quartile. San Diego County's health equity is 5.7%, almost double the county's average positive testing percentage.

According to the state guidelines, the health equity will measure socially determined health circumstances, such as a community's transportation, housing, access to health care and testing, access to healthy food and parks.

Neighborhoods are grouped and scored by U.S. Census tracts on the Healthy Places Index, https://healthyplacesindex.org/. Some of the unhealthiest neighborhoods include Logan Heights, Valencia Park, downtown El Cajon and National City.

According to county data, the county's health equity testing positivity percentage is 6.2 and is in the red tier. Wooten said that complicated metric will be explained this week when the state releases an official "playbook" of how it is calculated and what it means to communities throughout the state as they attempt to reopen.

The metric will be used to determine how quickly a county may advance through the reopening plan, San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said last Wednesday.

A community can only be as well as its unhealthiest quartile, she said, and while counties with a large disparity between the least and most sick members of a community will not be punished for the disparity by sliding back into more restrictive tiers, such a disparity will stop counties from advancing to less-restrictive tiers.

To advance to the orange tier, the county would need to report a metric of less than 5.3%.

The California Department of Public Health will update the county's data next Tuesday, Oct. 20.

County public health officials reported 195 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, raising the total to 50,746 cases. The number of deaths in the region from the illness remains at 826.

Of the 7,573 tests reported Monday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 2.9%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 10,424.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,692 -- or 7.3% -- have required hospitalization and 854 -- or 1.7% of all cases -- had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

One new community outbreak was reported Monday in a restaurant/bar setting. In the past seven days, 46 community outbreaks were confirmed, well above the trigger of seven or more in a week's time. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

Over the weekend, the county allowed private gatherings of up to three households, based on the state's new guidance issued Friday.

The gatherings must take place outdoors. If at someone's home, guests may go inside to use the bathroom. Participants in a gathering need to stay at least six feet apart from non-household members and wear face coverings. Gatherings should be kept to two hours or less, the new guidelines state.