How soon can San Bernardino County get off the state's coronavirus monitoring list?
Officials said on Aug. 25 that in partnership with residents, cities, and businesses, the county is taking positive steps toward meeting the metrics that will remove the county from the monitoring list and allow businesses and schools to reopen if they want to. However, much more progress needs to be done in order to reach that goal.
The list includes 35 of California’s 58 counties, including San Bernardino, Riverside, and Los Angeles counties. Orange County was recently taken off the list.
"San Bernardino County has activated programs that are showing consistent, positive results," the county said in a news release. "Five counties in the state have recently demonstrated enough progress in their fight against COVID-19 to be removed from the list. We are confident that with continued commitment and patience from our residents and businesses, San Bernardino County can do the same."
----- MONITORING LIST CRITERIA
The state has listed six criteria that put a county on its monitoring list:
• Experiencing an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations of 10 percent or more over the previous three days. San Bernardino County is well within state standards.
• Having fewer than 20 percent of ICU beds in the county available at any given time. San Bernardino County is well within state standards.
• Having fewer than 25 percent of hospital ventilators available for use at any given time. San Bernardino County is well within state standards.
• Performing fewer than 150 tests per 100,000 residents per day (over a seven-day average). For San Bernardino County, that means averaging about 3,000 tests per day -- and this is very close to being achieved.
• Having more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days. The county’s current average is about 200, but improving.
• Having more than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents and an 8 percent test positivity rate. San Bernardino County's test positivity rate currently stands at 10.6 percent and it is steadily declining.
San Bernardino County’s progress toward meeting the state’s metrics can be tracked by clicking the COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard directly from the sbcovid19.com website and going to the CDPH Monitoring tab.
----- HOW HEADWAY IS BEING MADE
In recent months, the county has launched several key initiatives that are showing results, officials said.
The COVID-Compliant Business Partnership has been successful, and thousands of businesses are practicing strict safety guidelines in their facilities, officials said. This initiative has been combined with the Education/Engagement/Enforcement (EEE) Plan that has seen the county already visit 2,000 high risk businesses with education and resources.
"We have also increased our testing capacity with a new, painless nasal testing system that can deliver results in under three days. And we have a robust contact tracing system that can identify and isolate infected individuals to quickly stop the spread of the virus," the county said.
The County Department of Public Health engages with the State Department of Public Health on a nearly daily basis to discuss key data points and the county’s strategies and progress. The county was recently successful in convincing the state to consider regional data within the county's vast region when considering school waivers rather than judging schools against countywide numbers.
----- NEW CASES AND POSITIVITY RATES
Corwin Porter, the county’s director of public health, said that "although the county has improved our performance in new cases and positivity rates, we still need to do a much better job" in order to be removed from the monitoring list.
“Our performance on these measures is improving,” Porter said. “We have done an excellent job preparing our hospitals for a potential surge in seriously ill patients. Now, residents need to not let their guard down and be cautious about gathering with family and friends.”
He noted that getting more residents (including those who show no signs of the disease) to take a test will maintain the county's positive trend in testing. The recent expansion in the county’s testing capacity is now enabling many more residents to get a test, which is free, painless, and can be scheduled without a doctor’s appointment.
The county has many appointments available each day, and the test takes only a few minutes to administer. In Fontana, testing is taking place at the Jessie Turner Center, 15556 Summit Avenue.
“Among other benefits, testing will identify asymptomatic carriers who could be unwittingly spreading the virus,” Porter said. “By identifying these individuals and those with whom they have been in close contact, we can enable them to quickly isolate themselves and thus reduce the spread of the virus.
"We can get off the monitoring list if everyone continues to follow the guidelines we’ve been emphasizing: maintain a safe distance from other people, wear a mask or face covering when such distancing is impractical, and please, please avoid gathering with people outside your immediate household,” added Porter. “The more consistently we follow these simple rules, the more quickly we can get off the state’s list and get back to business.”