SAN DIEGO — San Diego residents have seen more of their favorite businesses and attractions reopen in recent weeks after the county entered the red tier in the state’s reopening blueprint.
Next up: the orange tier, which will allow for additional business openings and increased attendance limits — especially at large outdoor venues, like Petco Park, where the San Diego Padres are about to open their season. But how can San Diego County get there?
In a news conference Wednesday, Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher explained three possible ways the county could fall under less-restrictive state guidelines. Fletcher said the earliest that could happen would be the second week of April, though he emphasized he was hesitant to predict any specific timeframe, adding the region needs to keep its case rates low first and foremost.
The first method is the county having a case rate below 4 new cases per 100,000 people for two consecutive weeks. The county posted 5.5 per 100,000 on Tuesday.
The second method is what Fletcher describes as most likely — the state administers 4 million vaccines to vulnerable communities in the healthy places index quartile, allowing for a loosening of the orange tier’s guidelines to 5.9 daily cases per 100,000. California has administered more than 2.9 million vaccines to these groups as of Wednesday.
Lastly, if San Diego County’s health equity metric — which looks at the testing positivity for areas with the lowest healthy conditions — and testing positivity percentage both fall into the state’s yellow tier for two consecutive weeks, the county will be promoted to the orange tier regardless of whether case rates remain high enough to qualify. The testing positivity is currently 2.4% and the county’s health equity metric is 3.4%, both in the orange tier.
As for vaccines now, San Diego County continues to have significantly more capacity to administer vaccines than supplies available. According to Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, even with the closure of the Petco Park vaccine distribution site, the county has the ability to administer 35,000 vaccines every day. Limited doses mean the actual number being injected is around 12,000 per day.
Health officials on Tuesday reported more than 823,000 people — or 30.6% of San Diego County residents over the age of 16 — have received at least one dose of the two-shot vaccines, and more than 504,000 people — or 18.8% — have been fully vaccinated.
More than 1.59 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to the region, and more than 1.44 million have been logged as administered. That number includes both county residents and those who work in San Diego County.
People began receiving vaccines at San Diego State University’s Viejas Arena and at the Mexican Consulate in Little Italy on Tuesday. Fletcher said the county will continue to open more vaccination sites.