Supervisors want hospitalization rate included in COVID-19 tier decisions

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously supported crafting a resolution that ratifies the public health officer’s guidance on hospital capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supervisors Jim Desmond and Kristin Gaspar made the proposal in connection with the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which was unveiled Aug. 29.

Desmond’s spokesman Miles Himmel said that while the resolution is symbolic, it allows the board to keep the pressure on the state by focusing on hospitalization rates.

The state’s blueprint places each county into one of four color-coded tiers, based on countywide case rates per 100,000 people. Depending on the tier, restrictions can be placed on businesses, schools and religious facilities.

As of Tuesday, San Diego County remained in the red tier, with an adjusted rate of 6.8 daily infections and a total of 50,746 cases.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, has been working closely with the state Department of Public Health to request that the blueprint provide an adjustment based upon hospital capacity, according to a board letter written by Desmond and Gaspar.

The county “is fully committed to safe re-opening that does not overload our hospital system or increase the COVID-19 death rate in our region,” according to the letter. “While the blueprint focuses on cases, it does not account for hospital capacity and readiness to provide medical treatment.”

According to the board letter, metrics that impact 3.3 million San Diegans should “be based on data and information that adequately reflects local conditions.

“Despite having robust contact tracing, large-scale testing capacity, suitable hospital and medical capacity, focused local non-pharmaceutical interventions, compliance programs, and regional partnerships, the current metrics and adjustment factors can still force small businesses to close.”

Board members are “grateful for our public health officer,” Gaspar said during Tuesday’s meeting. “This resolution would provide strength from the board for what she’s already articulating. Hospital capacity is very important. There should be an adjustment factor.”

Of the total number of coronavirus cases in the county, 3,692 — or 7.3% — have required hospitalization and 854 — or 1.7% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher described the resolution supporting Wooten as “a positive step forward,” especially considering past criticism of how she and other health officials have handled the county’s pandemic response.

The board’s decision Tuesday came after a regular update on county efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Although there was little public objection, Lindsey Wade, of Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties, said her group was “unclear on this resolution, as state already has guidelines.”

Helen Robbins-Meyer, county chief administrative officer, will present a resolution for board approval at the regular Oct. 27 meeting.

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