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S.D. County removed from state COVID-19 watch list, starting 14-day countdown to possible schools reopening

An illustration created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

California removed San Diego County from the state’s COVID-19 watch list Aug. 18, a county official confirmed.

The move, telegraphed during the county health department’s regular coronavirus briefing the day before, starts a 14-day countdown during which the region must not cross any of six thresholds before K-12 schools may resume in-person instruction at the discretion of local school boards.

Officials with the California Department of Public Health said the region would end up back on the list if any of those six items shoot up a fresh red flag, but only after a number was abnormal for three consecutive days.

The triggering metrics include the average number of tests a region is able to perform per day, the case rate per 100,000 residents, the percentage of positive tests, significant changes in the number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus infections, the percentage of intensive care unit beds available and the percentage of mechanical ventilators available.

So far, San Diego County has only crossed the case rate threshold, but that number dropped below 100 per 100,000 residents Aug. 15, according to the state’s calculations, and remained below 100 the following two days.

Meanwhile, 80 schools — most of them private — have applied to the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency for a waiver to reopen elementary grades for in-person classes, even if upper grades can’t.

The waiver would allow the schools to reopen for in-person instruction in transitional kindergarten through sixth grade. Middle and high school grades don’t qualify.

Each waiver application takes five business days to be reviewed by the county and state for a variety of criteria, including current county coronavirus data. The earliest a school can reopen, if the county approves the waiver, is two weeks after it applies.


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