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Health officials warn San Diegans as county moves to brink of restrictive purple tier

Posted at 6:17 AM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 10:55:24-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego County officials are once again sounding the alarm, asking San Diegans to follow all health guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, local leaders held a press conference to discuss the county's latest numbers and their placement on the state's colored tier system. The county stayed in the red tier, but was dangerously close to slipping into the more restrictive purple tier. In fact, County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said San Diego County was only two cases away from the purple tier.

"Yesterday we dodged a bullet. We could not have gotten any closer without tripping into the purple tier," County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said at Wednesday's press conference. "But we don't want to live or die on the tiers by how many tests we've done."

The county's unadjusted case rate is 7.7, while the adjusted rate is 7.0. Officials said the county's testing efforts allowed for that adjusted number.

The county's health equity metric also improved, going down from 5.7% to 5.5%; the metric looks at the most undeserved, impacted communities.

On Wednesday, health officials reported 263 new COVID-19 infections and six additional deaths, raising the region's cumulative totals to 53,263 cases and 863 fatalities.

Six new community outbreaks were also reported Wednesday, two in businesses, two in restaurants, one in a restaurant/bar setting and one in a healthcare setting. In the past seven days, 32 community outbreaks were confirmed, well above the trigger of seven or more in a week's time.

A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

Wooten said the best way to keep cases down is to continue following all health guidelines in place, like wearing a mask, staying home if you're sick, social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings.

The county is also looking ahead to Election Day, urging San Diegans to vote via mail-in ballot, but also reassuring in-person voters that it will be safe to cast a ballot.

County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu is asking all in-person voters to wear a mask and be patient on Election Day.

Vu said all 4,500 election workers will undergo two days of training before the election so they can handle sanitization procedures and how to direct crowds. Each worker is screened for COVID-19 daily.

The county will find out next Tuesday if they stayed in the red tier of if they will move back to purple.

City News Service contributed to this report