San Joaquin County is almost ready to move to a less-restrictive tier under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.”

As of Tuesday the county is reporting 6.2 new cases per-day per-100,000 people, with 5.5% of all people tested for the coronavirus testing positive.

The county must maintain those numbers, or better, for the next week, so that on Sept. 29 the county can move from the purple “widespread” tier to the less-restrictive red, or “substantial,” tier.

Newsom released his “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” in late August that set the criteria for how counties can move from the most restrictive measures on businesses and public gatherings to progressively less restrictive.

San Joaquin County was initially put in the most restrictive purple, or “widespread” tier based on COVID-19 infection rates in August, which were at 16.6 cases per 100,000 residents. In order to move to the less restrictive red, or “substantial” tier, the county needed to get down to seven or fewer cases per-100,000, and maintain that rate for two weeks.

The biggest difference in the red tier is the reopening of some indoor businesses, and higher capacity allowed for indoor venues that are already open, with social distancing still the priority.

Retail stores could allow up to 50% capacity indoors, up from 25%. Other businesses and venues that had been allowed to operate outdoors only, such as restaurants, places of worship and movie theaters, will be allowed to operate indoors, as long as they stay at or under 25% capacity. Gyms and fitness centers will be allowed to operate indoors as well, provided they stay at or below 10% capacity. The county also is allowing nail salons to open indoors as of this past Tuesday.

Regardless of how quickly the county continues to reduce new infections it will be at least three weeks after Sept. 29 that the county could move to the even less restrictive orange, or “moderate” tier, based on the rules outlined in Newsom’s “Blueprint.”

Statistics from San Joaquin County Public Health Services show 20,060 total cases as of Tuesday, including 1,665 in Tracy, since the start of the pandemic, with 434 deaths in the county. County hospitals had admitted 53 COVID-19 patients on Sept. 16, which was the lowest number since mid-June. After a slight rise going into the weekend that number was reduced again to 53 as of Wednesday.

New daily cases in the county have been on the decline since Aug. 8, when 536 new cases were reported. Fewer than 100 new cases per-day have been reported in all but three days since Sept. 4.

COVID-19 deaths in the county peaked on July 28 (23) and again on Aug. 31 (21). The county has seen 29 deaths in the week from Sept. 16 to 23.

COVID-19 cases statewide have declined in the past month, but reports of new cases still fluctuate from day-to-day. The most recent low, 1,616 new cases on Sept. 8, is the lowest since May 18 (1,365), but every other day so far in September has seen more than 2,000 new cases per-day, with four days since Sept. 5 where more than 4,000 new cases were reported.

As of Tuesday California had totaled 787,470 cases since the start of the pandemic and 15,204 people have died of COVID-19 in California in that time. Daily deaths from COVID-19 peaked on July 31 (219) and were on the decline until there was another increase going into mid-September. Those numbers decreased again this past week when there were fewer than 100 deaths per-day in four of the seven days between Sept. 16 and 22.

• Contact the Tracy Press at tpnews@tracypress.com or 835-3030.

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