By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– In partnership with our residents, cities, and businesses, San Bernardino County is taking positive steps toward meeting the metrics that will get the County off of the state monitoring list and allow our businesses and schools to reopen if they want to.
The list includes 35 of California’s 58 counties, including San Bernardino, Riverside, and Los Angeles counties.
San Bernardino County has activated programs that are showing consistent, positive results. 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% or more over the previous three days. San Bernardino County is well within state standards.
- Having fewer than 20% of ICU beds in the County available at any given time. San Bernardino County is well within state standards.
- Having fewer than 25% 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 7-day average). For San Bernardino County that means averaging approximately 3,000 tests per day – and we are very close to achieving this.
- 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% test positivity rate. Our positivity rate currently stands at 10.6% 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 our sbcovid19.com website and going to the CDPH Monitoring tab.
How we are making headway
In recent months, the County has launched several key initiatives that are showing results. Our COVID-Compliant Business Partnership is an overwhelming success, and thousands of businesses are practicing strict safety guidelines in their facilities. This initiative has been combined with the Education/Engagement/Enforcement (EEE) Plan that has seen us 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 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 our vast region when considering school waivers rather than judging schools against countywide numbers.
Meeting the challenge of news cases and positivity rates
Corwin Porter, the County’s director of public health, said that although we have improved our performance in news cases and positivity rates, we still need to do a much better job if we’re to get off 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.”
Another area where the County is dramatically improving its performance is testing, which is also lowering our positivity rate. The state requires an average (over seven days) of at least 150 tests per 100,000 residents per day, which in our case means an average of about 3,000 tests per day. Since Aug. 9, after investing heavily in better and quicker testing and promoting testing to the public, the County has averaged 4,679 tests per day.
Porter noted that getting more County residents (including those who show no signs of the disease) to take a test will improve our performance on this benchmark while reducing our positivity rate. Thankfully, 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 literally takes only a few minutes to administer. Every resident should visit our Testing webpage to read up on the FAQs and make an appointment.
“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.”
All of us should add to this list of guidelines to get tested now. And if you work with the public, or found yourself in an unsafe gathering, you should get tested again.