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Movie Theater
Movie theaters are only allowed up to 25% occupancy or 100 people — whichever is less. File photo
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County reports 304 new COVID-19 cases, additional health orders for businesses

REGION — San Diego County public health officials reported 304 new COVID-19 cases today, raising the county’s cumulative cases to 38,604 while multiple industries reopened some indoor operations under new state guidelines.

No new deaths were reported, keeping the county’s deaths tied to the illness at 682. Of 5,731 tests reported Monday, 5% returned positive, raising the county’s 14-day rolling positive testing rate to 3.7%, well below the
state’s 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 6,543.

Businesses including movie theaters, gyms, museums and hair and nail salons resumed indoor operations Monday, with modifications, under newly issued state guidance.

Restaurants, places of worship and movie theaters are only allowed up to 25% occupancy or 100 people — whichever is less. Museums, zoos and aquariums are also required not to exceed 25% occupancy.

The county will put in place Monday night a new policy that restaurant patrons sitting indoors must wear masks at all times, except when actively eating or drinking. Outdoor patrons may still remove masks while not consuming food or beverages.

Gyms, dance studios, yoga studios and fitness centers may operate with 10% occupancy. Hair salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, piercing shops, skincare and cosmetology services and nail salons may operate indoors with normal capacity, however, a new policy states they must keep an appointment book with names and contact information for customers to track potential future outbreaks.

San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox thanked San Diegans for working hard to bring the case rate down but offered a word of measured caution on Monday.

“This is not a green light, this is a yellow light,” he said. “We can’t gun the engine of the economy full throttle yet.”

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said the county would follow state guidelines that retail businesses are to be restricted to 50% occupancy. Wooten said she was seeking clarification on grocery stores for the same restriction.

All indoor businesses must still abide by social distancing and face-covering mandates, as well as having a detailed safe reopening plan on file with the county.

Gov. Gavin Newsom released a new state system Friday that sorts counties into one of four tiers based on the extent of the area’s COVID-19 outbreak.

Wooten said San Diego County had made it to the second tier, the only county in Southern California to earn that designation. The county still has a “substantial” COVID-19 presence, but unlike Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles and Imperial counties it is not considered “widespread.”

The two metrics the state was monitoring in that tier list include an old one — the percentage of positive tests — and a new one — the number of daily new cases per 100,000 people. San Diego County is at 3.8% and 5.8 per 100,000 respectively. To make it to the next tier, the county must show rates of between 2% and 4.9% positive tests and between 1 and 3.9 new daily cases per 100,000 population.

There is a 21-day mandatory wait time before any county can move between tiers, and a county must meet the metrics for the next tier for two straight weeks. Also, a county may only move one tier at a time. The state will monitor the data weekly, with results announced Tuesdays.

On Monday, San Diego State University reported another 13 students, some of whom live in campus housing, have tested positive for COVID-19. They join seven other students who tested positive for the illness last week. None of the students have attended any in-person classes.

An SDSU statement said the university had taken direct action with the students who live in university-owned housing.

“Three of the cases live on-campus at Zapotec, Villa Alvarado Apartments and South Campus Plaza North,” the statement said. “Two on-campus students have been moved to a designated isolation room, per SDSU’s Office of Housing Administration COVID-19 protocol. The other student was already isolating away from campus, prior to seeking testing this weekend. All are recovering well.”

A total of 31 SDSU students have contracted COVID-19 since March.

San Diego County schools will be allowed to reopen Tuesday, depending on individual school district policies.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,111 — or 8.1% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 750 — or 1.9% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

County health officials reported two new community outbreaks Monday, bringing the number of outbreaks in the past week to 16.

The number of community outbreaks remains well above the county’s goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households in the past 14 days.