SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors said it will meet again Tuesday to provide an update to the public. The announcement came after their second special closed session in less than a week ended Monday with no decision being made on taking legal action against the state.
Supervisors met last Thursday and again on Monday to discuss legal options regarding the states reopening criteria and its effect on businesses and schools. The meetings came as the county faced the possibility of sliding into the most restrictive purple tier which may happen Tuesday.
The board's chairman Supervisor Greg Cox issued the following statement Monday night:
“Tonight, our Board of Supervisors met in a special closed session and discussed our legal options regarding the State’s reopening criteria and the effect on local businesses and schools. The Board did not vote on any actions. We will continue to work with the State to make sure the metrics accurately reflect the underlying dynamics of the pandemic in San Diego County. The Board will meet again tomorrow at 3:00 pm to provide an update to the public.”
The board first met Thursday night to discuss their options after Gov. Gavin Newsom rejected a county effort Wednesday to discount the more than 700 positive tests recorded by San Diego State University since the semester began. The number had grown to nearly 900 as of Monday and now includes two faculty/staff members.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher was vague about the closed meeting Thursday, but urged caution.
"In general, I believe we should be fighting COVID-19 and not the state of California," he said. "We do not yet know what our case rate will be next Tuesday and will have to evaluate that number in order to understand any possible impact."
Earlier Monday, Fletcher along with medical professionals, scientists, and community leaders held a media conference to address the battle against COVID-19.
Fletcher said now is the time to battle COVID-19, not each other. Fletcher urged residents to focus on fighting COVID-19 rather than the business restrictions imposed by the ongoing pandemic.
"The reopening of businesses should not be pitted against keeping our residents safe. The most immediate threat to the viability of our businesses, our kid’s education, our people and our way of life as San Diegans is this deadly virus. If we allow the virus to become stronger, more powerful, then we all lose. COVID is the enemy. San Diegans need to be safe, be strong and beat COVID," Fletcher said.
San Diego County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar released the following statement Monday in response to Supervisor Fletcher's media conference:
“This morning Supervisor Fletcher held a hellfire and brimstone press conference in which he ironically and incorrectly blamed me for playing politics with COVID. Let me set the record straight: I have never supported any approach to re-opening that was not specifically supported by our Public Health Officer and clinical leadership team. Supervisor Fletcher knows this but prefers to continue spreading this false narrative because he is actively running a campaign against me. I measured the distance between our office doors, and it is 7 feet, so he and I can actually have a socially distanced conversation anytime he isn’t holding a press conference. I will continue to do my job protecting public health and working with small businesses and leave the politics to Supervisor Fletcher.”
Directly before Monday's closed session, Supervisor Gaspar issued this statement:
"I have been in constant communication with our County clinical leadership and am optimistic that San Diego County will remain in our current tier tomorrow. Our public health team has been leading a group of large, urban counties as we strive for more reasonable metrics. I continue to believe we can protect our public health and safely re-open our economy and will focus on solutions that do both during closed session.”
The county will find out Tuesday if it will slip back to the purple tier of the state's coronavirus reopening roadmap. If so, it would likely shutter indoor operations for restaurants, movie theaters, houses of worship and gyms, limit retail businesses to just 25% capacity and have major impacts on indoor business for most other industries until the county can improve its numbers.
Should the county be placed in that tier, it would have to wait a minimum of three weeks before moving back to less restrictive tiers.
If state data announced Tuesday shows the county has a case rate higher than 7, it could be moved into the purple tier -- the most restrictive. However, if the numbers from the university were removed from the equation, San Diego County would suddenly drop below the mark to remain in the red tier.