San Diego County Heading Toward Most Restrictive Purple Tier As Early As Next Week

November 4, 2020

County officials today announced San Diego is very likely heading toward California's most restrictive purple tier of COVID-19 constraints as early as next week. 

"We need to do better," stated San Diego County Chairman Gregory Cox. "We need to do a lot better. And we can do better." 

San Diego County took its first step into the state's most restricted "purple" tier of the state's four-tiered COVID-19 reopening plan Wednesday. San Diego's unadjusted case rate has gone to 8.7 per 100,000 people, which is above the baseline of 7 to keep the county in the red tier. The adjusted case rate is 7.4 per 100,000, which puts San Diego above the 7.0 case rate per the 100,000 people threshold for the red tier. This is San Diego County's first week in the purple tier, but it would take 2 weeks in that tier for the county to be moved. Supervisor Nathan Fletcher claimed that it would take a serious change in trajectory to alter course.

"We certainly hope we avoid that," said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. "It would take a significant change in trajectory given everything that we've been witnessing over the course of the last month in order for us to avoid that, but we remain optimistic and somewhat hopeful that will happen." 

According to California's reopening plan, a county has to report data in excess a more restrictive tier's guidelines for 2 consecutive weeks before it would be moved to a more restrictive tier. If sent to a higher tier, the county would be required to be in that tier for at least three weeks before it may move up a rung to a less restrictive tier.  San Diego County has been in the red tier since August 31. If moved to the purple tier, it would require the closure of almost all indoor operations of nonessential businesses, including restaurants, religious services, fitness centers, and more. San Diego County has had a total of 58,106 positive COVID-19 cases with 904 total deaths related to the pandemic.

In late August, California Governor Gavin Newsom introduced a uniform framework process consisting of 4 tiers for reopening the economy. The metrics to determine movement within the tiers are based on case rates and test positivity percentage per county. The 4 color-coded tiers are as follows: purple is when county risk level is widespread and most non-essential indoor business operations will be forced to remain closed (more than 7 per 100,000 and more than 8% positive tests); red is when county risk level is substantial and some non-essential indoor business operations will stay closed (between 4-7 new cases per 100k population and between 5-8% positive cases); orange is when risk level is moderate and some business operations are open with modifications (between 1-3.9 new cases per 100k population and between 2-4.9% positive cases); yellow is when a county risk level is minimal and most business operations are open with modifications.

There is no change in restrictions at this time. The county will know if there is a move into California's purple tier as early as Tuesday, November 10, with any change likely going into effect on Friday, November 13. 

This is a developing story. We will update this post as we learn more.