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San Diego area edges toward less restrictive COVID status

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REGION – The state has delivered 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to its hardest hit communities, the California Department of Public Health announced today, meaning it is all but assured San Diego County will enter the less-restrictive red tier in the state’s four-tiered reopening plan on Wednesday.

With this equity metric met, the previously announced update to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy to account for progress with vaccine administration goes into effect. The modification will shift blueprint tier thresholds to allow slightly higher case rates per 100,000 population once more inoculations have occurred in the communities suffering the most, allowing counties to move to less restrictive tiers.

“California is doubling down on its mission to keep equity a top priority as we continue to get COVID-19 doses into the arms of all Californians as safely and quickly as possible,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency. “Focusing on the individuals who have been hardest hit by this pandemic is the right thing to do and also ensures we are having the greatest impact in reducing transmission, protecting our health care delivery system and saving lives.”

As a result of this modification, unless there is a massive spike in cases over the weekend, San Diego County will report sub-10 new daily cases per 100,000 population on Tuesday, bringing the county into the red tier and its limited allowance of indoor dining, gyms, movie theaters and other businesses and services on Wednesday morning.

Friday evening, public-health officials reported 362 new local COVID-19 infections and 12 more deaths from the disease, pushing the total number of cases in the county to 264,889 and the fatality toll to 3,434.

On Monday, vaccine eligibility will expand again, this time to people with underlying health conditions, subject to vaccine availability.

All told, 678,267 – or 25.2% of San Diego County residents over the age of 16 – have received at least one dose of the two-shot vaccines and 385,938 people – or 14.4% – have been fully vaccinated.

Due to vaccine shortages, a vaccination “super site” at the Del Mar Fairgrounds will be closed through Sunday, officials advised. It is scheduled to reopen Monday.

Patients who had appointments on one of the three closed days are being rescheduled automatically through the “MyTurn” online appointment system.

Current medical guidance suggests patients can wait up to six weeks between doses of the vaccine without losing any efficacy.