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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Beyond the Numbers: San Diego County to submit health equity plan to the state

The newly developed metric is aimed at giving counties credit toward its rate for undertaking initiatives in underserved communities where coronavirus hit hardest

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego County will submit its health equity plan to the state Thursday, which could eventually help reduce the county’s case rate. The newly developed metric is aimed at giving counties credit toward its rate for undertaking initiatives in historically underserved communities where coronavirus has hit hardest.

“These efforts did not just start yesterday. We’ve been conducting these various strategies that are recommended by the state basically since day one in our response to this COVID-19 pandemic,” said San Diego County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H.

The equity metric reviews the percentage of positive cases in communities that make up a county’s lowest quartile under the California Healthy Places Index. The index is developed by reviewing 25 indicators, including economic, education and environment factors in different communities. In San Diego, it includes portions of the South Bay, El Cajon, Oceanside, Escondido and East County.

Last week, the percentage of positive cases was 3.4% for the county compared to 5.7% in the lowest quartile of the county. The percentage positive must be below 4.9% to move into the orange tier.

The county has already taken steps to address the pandemic in these communities. Health officials point to programs to improve education about the virus and many testing sites that have been established. However, the underlying issues predate the pandemic. The county plans to lay out its long-term strategy to address housing security, childcare, schools, homelessness, healthcare, economic security, transportation and mobility.

San Diego County must also have a case rate below 4.0 to move to orange. It had an adjusted rate of 6.8 on Tuesday, just shy of the red tier’s 7.0 threshold.

“We are living on the edge and precipice of going into that higher tier every single week,” said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. “That causes great anxiety amongst our community, our small businesses, [and] our team here wondering week to week what will happen.”