UC San Diego Assistant Professor Explains What County Must Do to Get Off Watch List

“We shut everything down in mid-March and your probability, your odds of running into somebody who is sick is so much higher now,” said social epidemiologist Rebecca Fielding-Miller

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Despite Tuesday's lower numbers in positive coronavirus cases, San Diego County remains on the state's monitoring list and has been on it for more than two weeks now.

That list dictates when schools can reopen, when businesses can move back indoors, and when things can begin to get back to normal. The question that has swirled through many residents’ heads is how do we get off that dreaded list?

One UC San Diego disease and global public health assistant professor said that before the county can be taken off California’s monitoring list, cases must first decrease. In order to do that, a collaborative effort involving every San Diego County resident must be done.

“We need to get our number of cases down to a low enough level where contact tracing can be an effective strategy to keep the virus under control,” said social epidemiologist Rebecca Fielding-Miller, who is also a UC San Diego assistant professor.

Miller explained if cases can be kept at a low enough rate to determine who exactly is sick, the county can avoid other watch list triggers like strained hospitals. However, the virus continues to spread in the county and is making that goal difficult.

“We shut everything down in mid-March and your probability, your odds of running into somebody who is sick is so much higher now,” Miller told NBC 7.

On Tuesday, health officials reported 385 new positive COVID-19 cases in the county, raising the total number of cases that have been reported to 24,135. The most recent cases were among a batch of 9,030 tests Tuesday, meaning the percentage of positive cases was at 4.3%.

NBC 7’s Steven Luke goes over what measures San Diego County must make in order to be taken off California’s coronavirus monitoring list.

If the county can keep the number of positive cases at a low percentage for three days, it will be taken off the state’s monitoring list. If that percentage remains low for 14 days, then schools can go back into session and things can slowly begin to get back to normal.

Miller emphasized that the county and residents’ focus should be on getting better and keeping one another safe by wearing face masks, practicing social distancing and staying home whenever possible. Once positive cases decrease, getting off California’s watch list will follow.

“It's nice not to be on probation and not to be grounded, but I think it's more nice not to be worried that every time we go grocery shopping we might get sick.”

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