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San Joaquin Could Be Heading Back to the Purple Tier

November 10, 2020 at 8:10 pm

San Joaquin County could be moving back to a more restrictive tier on the state’s COVID-19 monitoring system. The county, currently in the second-most restrictive tier (red), reported 8.3 daily new cases per 100,000 people on Tuesday. If the case rate exceeds 7 per day for another week, San Joaquin will be moved back to the most stringent tier, purple.

The county’s test positivity rate of 4.3% remains a bright spot and is within the threshold to qualify for the next tier up, orange. The California Department of Public Health is also using a third number to determine if counties can move up the system, known as the health equity metric.

The health equity metric is the test positivity rate for the county’s lowest socioeconomic 25% of the population. That quarter of the population is based off of the California Healthy Places Index, which uses roughly two dozen factors to calculate a composite score for every neighborhood in the state. The test positivity for people living in the lowest quartile of neighborhoods in each county is then evaluated.

For San Joaquin to enter the next tier, orange, its health equity metric must be below 5.2% for two weeks. It is currently at 5.5%). However, even if that proportion does spike over the next several weeks, it will not cause the county to move to a more restrictive tier.

Sacramento and San Diego counties have moved down to the purple tier this week. Similarly to San Joaquin, they had relatively low positivity rates (4.1% and 2.6% respectively), but high case rates. Should San Joaquin move down, capacity for retail stores, libraries, churches, gyms, and other businesses would be reduced. Schools that have not already opened would also be ineligible to reopen.

Hospitalizations have also climbed recently in San Joaquin. As of Monday, 58 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized, with intensive care capacity at 105%.