By Miriam Raftery
May 19, 2020 (San Diego) – Today, San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors will vote on a plan to allow reopening of the local economy at an accelerated pace in conformance with new state rules, the county has announced. The action follows Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement yesterday of new state guidelines that will allow the vast majority of California counties to move quickly through phase two.
You can watch the meeting online or join via phone to view the discussion on reopening, which is item 5 on the agenda.
If the state approves San Diego’s plans, among the first businesses to benefit could be retailers allowed to have customers inside stores. Dining in at restaurants could also resume in the near future. Both would require social distancing, masks, health and sanitation plans submitted by each business. In addition, Governor Newsom has indicated that hair salons, church gatherings and professional sports without spectators could start up again as early as June.
The Governor estimates that 53 of 58 counties could meet the new criteria, aimed at allowing those areas with lower levels of COVID-19 and that meet certain requirements to reopen sooner than those with high levels. Requirements include:
- No more than 25 cases per 100,000 residents and positive test rates of 8% or less
- No more than one new case per 10,000 residents over 14 days
- An increase in hospitalizations of 5% or less over 7 days, or less than 20 hospitalizations in 14 days.
The guidelines give local health authorities the abilities to impose stricter rules, but not more lax rules
To date, San Diego has administered over 108,000 tests and is now testing over 4,000 people daily, according to county health officials. A total of 5,946 cases have been confirmed countywide as of yesterday, with 110 new cases reported yesterday and two additional deaths, both seniors with underlying health conditions.
Nearly one-fifth (19.8%) of all local COVID-19 cases required hospitalization and 5.7% of patients had to be placed in an intensive care unit.
The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce posted this statement on its Facebook page following the state and county announcements yesterday. “The recommendations developed by the Responsible COVID-19 Economic Reopening (RECOVER) Advisory Group created by County Board of Supervisors Chairman Greg Cox and Mayor Kevin Faulconer last month continue to help guide conversations on ensuring a healthy and safe environment for employees and customers. As we move closer to more businesses opening, we encourage all companies to begin developing a safe reopening plan now so you are ready to reopen as soon as officials give the okay.”
News of reopening can't come too soon for many local businesses struggling to survive after weeks of stay-home orders and promised federal aid running out without reaching far too many business owners. On the flip side, reopening too soon could lead to a spike in cases, triggering mandatory shutdowns again, health officials warn.
Supervisor Jim Desmond has pushed for a rapid reopening, posting a video and telling KUSI TV that only a handful of the county’s 210 deaths to date are “pure” COVID-19 deaths, since most patients had underlying health conditions. However his logic has some flaws. Some of those underlying health conditions are common, such as high blood pressure, and many of the victims with such conditions could well have lived many years if they had not contracted COVID-19.
Moreover, looking only at death rates fails to account for high numbers of survivors left with permanent and serious damage In New York, one hospital reported kidney damage in 50% of those treated in an ICU for COVID-19, with 20 to 30% requiring dialysis. According to a Healthline report injuries to the heart and brain, as well as depression and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome among survivors. COVID-19 is also causing clots and strokes in some patients, even after they are discharged from hospitals. The novel coronavirus is also linked to at least 700 cases worldwide of Pediatric Mulisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, a rare but serious condition in children.
San Diego Health Officer Wilma Wooten concudes, “We will continue to monitor other metrics to inform our further opening of local businesses, organizations and activities to strike a balance between the protection of the public health and economic viability of our region,” she says.
The County’s COVID-19 webpage contains additional information on the disease, including a graph showing new positive cases and total cases reported by date. The data is also broken down by gender, race and ethnic/race group. An interactive dashboard with several COVID-19 indicators is being updated daily. For more information, visit coronavirus-sd.com.
Miriam Raftery, editor and founder of East County Magazine, has over 35 years of journalism experience. She has won more than 350 journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego Press Club, and the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Her honors include the Sol Price Award for responsible journalism and three James Julian awards for public interest reporting from SPJ’s San Diego chapter. She has received top honors for investigative journalism, multicultural reporting, coverage of immigrant and refugee issues, politics, breaking news and more. Thousands of her articles have appeared in national and regional publications.
East County Magazine gratefully acknowledges the Facebook Journalism Project for its COVID-19 Relief Fund grant to support our local news reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more: #FacebookJournalismProject and https://www.facebook.com/fbjournalismproject/