San Joaquin's COVID Positivity Rate Dips Into the Red Tier
February 16, 2021 at 9:26 pm
San Joaquin County’s COVID-19 test positivity rate has dipped below the threshold to make the county eligible for a lower tier in California’s coronavirus restriction system, a sign of improving conditions amid the continuing vaccine rollout. The county currently has a positivity rate of 7.8%, barely under the 8% marker to enter the red tier.
However, there is a while to go. The county currently resides in the purple, the state’s most restrictive tier. To move into the red tier requires a daily case rate of less than seven per 100,000 people; San Joaquin is currently at 25.1, more than triple the required minimum.
Additionally, the county’s health equity metric, currently at 10.3%, must be below 8%. The health equity metric measures the test positivity rate for people living in the bottom 25% of the county’s neighborhoods according to socioeconomic status.
The thresholds for the red tier must then be held for at least two consecutive weeks for the county to move down, where there will be fewer restrictions.
After five days in the red tier, schools can begin to reopen for in-person learning. Additionally, the San Joaquin County Office of Education said in a letter last week that it would begin offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to all teachers in the county, beginning in late February.
While the CDC has said that teacher vaccines are not a requirement to reopen schools, many teachers' unions have said that vaccinating employees is necessary. The agency has also published data indicating "little evidence" of widespread COVID-19 transmission in schools if proper safety measures are followed.
Restaurants will also be able to have indoor dining if San Joaquin enters the red tier. Retailers can expand from 25% capacity to 50% capacity, and gyms can begin limited indoor operations. However, churches and places of worship will have to remain at 25% capacity.
COVID-19 case rates have dropped rapidly since peaking in late December and early January, with at least some of the credit going to the two vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. San Joaquin has administered 79,000 doses so far, and at least 20,000 people have gotten their second shot. That means that roughly 7.7% of the county’s population, or roughly 58,000 people, have received at least one dose.
Statewide, 6.2 million vaccine doses have been administered, including 1.46 million second doses. However, California is still in the middle of the pack nationwide, with only 12% of its population having received at least one dose.