San Diego County details their criteria for some businesses to reopen Friday

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – San Diego County continues to prepare for some businesses to reopen Friday, even as today’s data showed a slight increase in the rate of COVID-19 positive-testing individuals.

Local health officials reported 159 new cases and eight deaths Wednesday, raising the county totals to 4,319 cases and 158 deaths.

County Chairman Greg Cox said while the county prepared to meet Gov. Gavin Newsom’s orders to reopen some retail, manufacturing and logistics businesses, it ultimately held power on which were going to open.

Some businesses might not have the staff, supplies or protocols in place to safely reopen, and the county would not allow those unprepared businesses to open in an unsafe manner “no matter what the governor says,” Cox said.

To avoid that uncomfortable situation, he encouraged business owners to visit www.sandiegocounty.gov/coronavirus.html to find a “safe reopening plan” template to help prepare.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said employers and employees should get used to increased health surveillance, including daily temperature checks.

He said the best way to prevent the spread of the illness is “changing our individual behavior,” but that by sending home sick employees, businesses could help.

City Councilman Scott Sherman urged county officials to give San Diegans the right to choose.

“San Diegans have sacrificed much to flatten the curve and many are now struggling. Our region has shown that we can act responsibly,” he said. “I urge the County Board of Supervisors to begin immediate work so our region can move more quickly through phase two and open more businesses.”

Wednesday’s deaths included three women in their 70s to 80s and seven men ranging from their 40s to their 80s.

The county and its health partners completed 2,260 tests Wednesday, raising the total completed tests to 65,737. Of those, around 7% returned positive, a slightly higher rate than the rolling average.

On Wednesday, 363 COVID-19 positive individuals were in the hospital, 133 in intensive care. Since the health crisis began, 882 people with novel coronavirus have been admitted to the hospital, 281 of whom were sent to the ICU. The county estimates 2,333 people have recovered from the illness.

These numbers translate to 20.4% of all positive-testing individuals being hospitalized, 6.5% spending at least some time in intensive care and 3.7% dying of COVID-19.

According to data presented by Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, men are more likely to die of the illness — they represent 56.3% of the fatalities — and people identified as white make up around 49% of the deaths, with Latinos not far behind at 39% of all COVID-19 deaths in the county.

On Tuesday, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a framework for safely reopening businesses amid the pandemic. As part of the plan, the county will send a letter to Newsom requesting “total local control” on COVID-19 decisions.

The framework also offers guidelines on employee and customer safety, sanitation, physical distancing, and general business practices and communications. Recommendations were based on input from the Responsible COVID-19 Economic Reopening Advisory Group, which includes county supervisors, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, small business owners and construction industry associations.

Approval of the business guidelines was just one of several COVID-19 related actions the board tackled during its regular meeting.

Supervisors also unanimously approved $5 million in emergency childcare vouchers available to essential front-line workers and families. The money will come from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Supervisor Diane Jacob made an amendment to make the funds contingent on the city of San Diego also contributing $5 million from its CARES Act funding, for a total of $10 million.

The board also unanimously approved a six-month waiver of fees for inspections associated with environmental health, agriculture weights and measures, plan checks for tenant improvements, and air pollution control permit renewals.

Andy Pease, Health and Human Services Administration finance director, told supervisors the county will receive $334 million from the CARES Act to cover costs between March 1 and Dec. 30.

He said the money will not cover revenue losses or shortfalls, and added the county is now on track to spend $100 million on efforts to combat the virus, and costs will continue to rise.

Tracy Sandoval, county finance and general government manager, said her office estimates a total revenue shortfall of between $265 million and $395 million, and said it will be imperative for governments to develop long-term strategies to weather the downturn.

A San Diego Association of Governments study released Wednesday found that local freeway traffic has decreased by 44% since the COVID-19 stay at home orders began in the San Diego region, including 52% on State Route 163 and 50% on Interstate 5.

The SANDAG research and program management team analyzed travel on San Diego County freeways from mid-March to mid-April this year, and when compared to the same time last year, traffic volumes at eight hotspots decreased an average 41 percent. Additionally, speeds during peak periods averaged 30 mph higher.

Categories: California News, Coronavirus, Local San Diego News