As the possibility of a return to a more restrictive tier looms over San Diego County, local leaders asked the state to remove San Diego State University's COVID-19 case numbers from the county's total but it appeared Wednesday the state would deny the request.
On Tuesday, Dr. Wooten announced the county requested California officials omit SDSU's data from the region's total so that the county could avoid being placed on Tier 1 (also known as the purple, "widespread" tier), which would revert restrictions for businesses and churches that were just loosened Aug. 31.
“We made the request last week," Wooten said during the County Board of Supervisors' meeting. "We were given an answer that we were not willing to accept and we pushed back and we have asked again for them to discount the San Diego State cases and not count them against us."
But on Wednesday, the state made it clear it was not going to approve San Diego's request.
"You can't isolate as if it's on an island, a campus community that is part of a larger community, so the answer is 'No,'" Gov. Gavin Newsom said in response to a question if the state would consider special exemptions like the one sought in San Diego.
SDSU reported its student population has had a total of 667 confirmed and nine probable cases of the coronavirus among on and off-campus students since the beginning of its fall semester on Aug. 22.
That number has directly caused a spike in San Diego County's case rate, a metric used to place each county in the state on one of four tiers that determines their ability to reopen businesses, San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said.
On Tuesday, the county reported its case rate was 7.9 cases per 100,000 residents, which is outside the 4 to 7 metric needed to remain in Tier 2, or the red "substantial" tier.
According to Wooten, the region's case rate would be at 6 if it weren't for the numbers added from the surge in COVID-19 cases coming from SDSU.
In response to Newsom's answer, Supervisor Greg Cox said that the county will look for other ways they can potentially keep businesses opened at a closed-session meeting Thursday afternoon, but did not elaborate further.
"Unfortunately, so far, the state is not receptive to our request but were going to continue to push for consideration of reasonable alternatives to prevent our businesses from having to close simply because there are a number of outbreaks that have nothing to do with business operations," Cox said at Wednesday's county coronavirus briefing.
The county is expected to learn Sept. 22 if it will move tiers or remain at Tier 2, which is also known as the "Red Tier." It allows businesses to offer indoor services within a certain capacity.
Here's what moving into the Purple Tier would mean for San Diego County.