San Joaquin Moves Up in State Coronavirus Monitoring System

September 29, 2020 at 7:20 pm

Map of the tiers for California counties

Map of the tiers for California counties. The darker the color, the more restrictive.

San Joaquin County has moved into the red tier in the state’s coronavirus monitoring system, allowing for businesses to continue to reopen in limited capacity. The county had been in the most restrictive tier, purple, since the ranking system was rolled out in late August.

A variety of businesses will be able to partially reopen thanks to the county’s new status. Restaurants, places of worship, and movie theaters can now operate at 25% capacity, with the number of customers capped at 100. The 25% also applies to museums, zoos, and aquariums, although without the 100-person limit.

Retail and malls have been expanded to 50% capacity, although food courts and common areas will be restricted in the latter. Dance studios, gyms, and fitness centers will be at 10% capacity.

Higher education institutions such as University of the Pacific or Delta College will be able to hold indoor lectures and student gatherings at 25% with a maximum of 100 people. Labs, studio arts, and similar courses will be able to be held in person.

Schools have already begun to reopen somewhat in San Joaquin County, with 29 schools being granted waivers from the county Public Health Services. However, the waivers only apply to students from kindergarten to sixth grade, and not all of those grades are going back at once. Some schools, for example, have initially restricted returning students to kindergarten to third grade.

Middle and high school students will have to wait at least two weeks to go back to in-person classes. San Joaquin’s numbers must remain within the red tier criteria for at least 14 days before physical learning can restart. Additionally, schools or even entire districts can be forced to close if case numbers spike.

Whether or not schools reopen is up to the district. “I do wish that they don’t fully reopen without truly being ready.” said San Joaquin Public Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park. “Hopefully everyone is truly examining their readiness and maybe bringing in the younger kids before the older kids.”

Saunas, bars and breweries that do not serve meals, nightclubs, live theaters, concert venues, and indoor wine tasting will remain closed.

San Joaquin currently has a positive test rate of 4.7% and a case rate per 100,000 people of 6.8. The former actually qualifies for the next tier up, orange, while the latter is just under the requirement for the red tier of 7 cases.

The county must keep its positivity rate under 4.9% and lower its case per 100,000 rate to 3.9 at the most for two straight weeks to move up to orange. Additionally, there is a new requirement, the health equity metric, that will have to be taken into account. The positivity rate for the bottom socioeconomic 25% of the population must be no more than 5.25%. San Joaquin’s current rate for that group is roughly 8%.

Butte, Sacramento, Yolo, Contra Costa, Fresno, and Santa Barbara counties also moved up to the red tier this week. San Francisco, Calaveras, and Amador counties progressed to the orange tier. Only three counties in the state (Modoc, Mariposa, and Alpine) have made it to yellow, the least restrictive. More than a quarter of the counties, including Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Kern, are still on the purple, the lowest level.