San Diego County

County Leaders ‘Sound the Alarm' as COVID-19 Case Rates Climb

NBC Universal, Inc.

San Diego County public health officials are imploring San Diegans to maintain vigilance as positive case rates for the coronavirus continue to increase in the region.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten held an impromptu news briefing Friday to "sound the alarm" as the future case rate appears to cross into the "purple'' tier of the state's four-tier reopening system.

The county will be in the red, or substantial, tier for at least another two weeks.

"Our charge to the public is to implore you to take action to change the outcome for results that occur after next week," Wooten said.

With the state's monitoring system having a seven-day lag, both the adjusted and unadjusted case rate of positive COVID-19 tests for next week appear to be above seven new daily cases per 100,000 population, the state's metric for the most restrictive purple tier.

The good news is it will take two consecutive weeks with data in purple tier levels before the county is moved back to that step, so there may be a chance of reversing trends and avoiding that precipitous drop.

Nearly all non-essential indoor businesses would close under the purple tier.

NBC 7 spoke with a restaurant owner who will be affected if San Diego County moves to the purple tier.

At the Dumpling Inn being the Red Tier means the struggling family-owned business can serve customers inside and out. A move to the more restrictive Purple Tier means -- no more indoor dining and that would cut their business in half - and even worse when the weather changes -- says owner Sandy Tobin.

"It's going to impact us greatly going into the kind of winter season as well as the rainy season I'm not quite sure how we would serve our guests," Tobin said.

One restaurant customer told NBC 7 he believes that taking precautions in the key to keeping out of the purple tier.

"You have to use the mask and the gloves say social distance it's better for us," Clisley Lima said.

Another customer told NBC 7 if people can't comply and get the numbers down then the state has to do what it takes to keep people safe.

"In my opinion safety comes first it's bad for businesses it's bad for workers like me but it's even worse if this thing doesn't go away," said Lucy Barreras.

Tobin says what worries her most is her employees -- who she considers family.

"It's disheartening of course my greatest fear honestly it would be for my staff members not only would we have to cut shifts we probably have to let some of them be furloughed," Tobin said.

Each Tuesday, the state determines which tier every county should fall under by using data from two weeks prior. For example, on Oct. 20, the state will release San Diego County's ranking based on data from Oct. 4-10.

"We are still in the red tier, but it is too close for comfort," Wooten said. "We encourage teleworking as much as possible, and if you're sick, don't go into work."

"We do control our own destiny moving forward," Fletcher said.

In order to change the course, Fletcher gave tips to residents to reduce their exposure to COVID-19.

"Avoid indoor gatherings, utilize the face coverings, we're asking employers to consider people allowing to telework, to reduce the prevalence of individuals in indoor settings," he said.

While the county has seen an explosion of outbreaks, 10 at businesses, public health officer Dr. Wooten says 95% of cases are not related to an outbreak, something she says is a clear indication the virus is "indeed everywhere."

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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