San Joaquin County is moving toward less restrictive quarantine measures as COVID-19 infections continue to decline in the county.

Relaxation of those restrictions is still two or more weeks away, though. And while numbers are improving, they don’t show the same rate of improvement over the past month as they did in late summer when the county and state began to recover from the peak of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

San Joaquin County started off in the most restrictive purple “widespread” tier when Governor Gavin Newsom announced the Blueprint for a Safer Economy on Aug. 28. At the time, the daily new case rate for the week ending Aug. 18 was 16.6 per-100,000 residents. In order to move to the less restrictive red “substantial” tier, the county had to reduce COVID-19 infections to fewer than eight new infections per-day for two weeks in a row.

San Joaquin County attained the red tier the week ending Sept. 29, when 6.8 new daily cases per-100,000 residents were reported. Cases continue to decline, and as of Friday the county had been reporting 4.9 new daily cases per-100,000.

When the county can report less than four cases per-100,000 and maintain that rate for two weeks, it can move to the less restrictive orange “moderate” tier.

Counties that reach the orange tier can allow all offices to reopen, retail stores and malls could open at full capacity, restaurants and worship centers could open indoors at 50% capacity, gyms and indoor pools and family entertainment centers at 25% capacity, and spectator sports venues could open at 20% capacity. Social distancing, sanitation and masks are still required even in the less restrictive tiers.

Other numbers from state and county COVID-19 dashboards show that infections, hospitalizations and deaths have decreased since their peak in mid- to late-July, with substantial improvement in late summer and modest improvement over the past month.

San Joaquin County had seen a steady decrease in COVID-19 cases since local infections peaked in mid-July and again in mid-August, leveling off at an average of about 50 new cases per-day since the start of October, with cases continuing to decline again over the past week when the seven-day average of new cases dipped below 40, back to where the rate of new infections was in early June right before a sharp rise in new infections led to the reports of new cases to peak on July 14 (477) and again on Aug. 7 (535).

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in the county have also declined from their peak on July 27 (262) to a new low of 22 on Oct. 10, with fewer than 30 people being treated for COVID-19 in the county’s seven hospitals in 10 of the last 12 days.

COVID-19 deaths in San Joaquin County also peaked in late July to early August, with 23 deaths in a single day reported on July 28. There have been 28 deaths so far in October. The county reported 10 deaths on Oct. 1, and since then there have been 12 days, including five days in a row, Oct. 8 to 12, with no deaths reported.

New COVID-19 cases across the state are on the decline, but the steady decline from mid-August to mid-September had leveled off, and reports of new cases have remained mostly consistent for the past five weeks.

New cases per-day statewide peaked in late July, with 12,807 cases reported on July 21, and again in mid-August, with 12,614 new cases reported on Aug. 14. By the second week of September, the state was recording a seven-day average of less than 4,000 new cases, dipping below 3,000 this week.

Statewide hospitalizations continue to decline, though they’ve declined slowly over the past month. The peak for hospitalizations for confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases was 8,820 on July 21, and reached a new low of 3,002 on Oct. 18, the lowest since the state started reporting those numbers at the end of March.

Deaths have also been on the decline statewide since they peaked in late July, when 219 deaths were reported on July 31. The seven-day average for deaths in the state dipped below 60 per-day two weeks ago, back near where the death rate was in the month of June before an increase in fatalities in July and August.

There have been two days in October when fewer than 10 deaths were reported, with eight reported on Oct. 11, and nine reported on Oct. 12. There has been only one other day when fewer than 10 deaths were reported — six deaths on July 5 — since March 22.

• Contact Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com, or call 209-830-4227.

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