San Diego County’s COVID-19 Response Team confirmed the county has satisfied the new metrics set by the state to allow jurisdictions to advance further into Phase 2 of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s reopening plan.
The response team, which monitors and reports on the coronavirus' toll on the county, made the announcement during the Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday while updating local leaders on the county’s response to the novel coronavirus.
It recommended that the Board approve a plan to accelerate through the Phase 2 reopening plan, which allows for in-store shopping and let dine-in restaurants and swap meets reopen. The Board unanimously voted in favor of sending a phase two acceleration plan to the state.
However, it does not mean things will take into effect immediately. Officials have not outlined how soon changes will be made. Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten also noted that if the health care system becomes strained, they could again pull back easing.
The team also recommended local leaders send Gov. Newsom a pilot program plan for Phase 3 of the county’s reopening. If approved, it could allow for the reopening of certain facilities like sports and fitness clubs, salons and outdoor religious services. Newsom said the state would likely advance into Phase 3 in several weeks.
The board voted 4-1 in favor of sending the pilot program to state leaders with Supervisor Nathan Fletcher the only dissenting vote.
He released a statement that read in part, " given we have not even opened “Stage 2” business, I do not believe it is time to call on the state to allow the immediate opening of “Stage 3” entities including higher risk activities like gathering and businesses with high exposure, intensity and duration of risk."
"Governor Newsom has said he believes we will be ready to move into “Stage 3” at the beginning of June. That is less than two weeks away and I believe a wiser course of action is to fully and safely implement 'Stage 2', monitor any impact of our public health situation, and prepare for successful implementation of 'Stage 3' in the coming weeks."
But Supervisor Jim Desmond called the pilot plan "a step in the right direction.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the county opened the discussion to the public and received dozens of calls regarding the possibility of San Diego reopening.
On Monday, Newsom announced California would relax some of its reopening criteria and that 53 of the state’s 58 counties could meet the new guidelines. The updated guidelines included the elimination of requirements such as a county having zero deaths and no more than one case or every 10,000 residents over the span of 14 days.
According to the county, that criteria includes:
- Less than 5% of daily COVID-19 hospitalizations over a 7-day period
or no more than 20 COVID hospitalizations on any single day in the past 14
- Fewer than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past 14 days
or less than 8% testing positive in the past 7 days.
- A capacity to be able to test 1.5 per every 1,000 residents and at
least 15 staff per 100,000 county population trained and available for contact tracing, and;
- Hospital capacity for a possible surge of 35% of hospitalizations
due to COVID-19 cases in addition to providing usual care for other patients.
“I would be so excited,” Little Italy resident Andrea Yoder Clark told NBC 7. “That is a part of our culture and life here in Little Italy. I know many people who live in the neighborhood we all moved here to take advantage of the great restaurants.”
In anticipation of the county's next move, the restaurant industry demonstrated how it would operate if given the green light to reopen for dine-in service.
“We are very cautious and working with our restaurants and retailers to make sure that when they do open they’re prepared to make sure the first step is public health and making sure the guest is safe and also the employees and staff are safe,” said Christopher Gomez of the Little Italy Association.
The Board of Supervisors is also set to debate on Tuesday the allocation of the $334 million it received in federal funds as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.