published on September 22, 2020 - 1:02 PM
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(AP) — California’s second-largest county was narrowly spared Tuesday from having to backpedal on its return to normalcy, escaping a major economic setback related to the coronavirus.

San Diego had a per-capita case rate, weighted for number of tests, of 6.9, according to data the state released for the week ended Sept. 2. If the rate had been above 7.0, businesses would have had to scale back operations.

The rate was 7.9 the previous week, putting the county on warning that it was on the brink of reversing course. The county’s percentage of positive test rate was 3.8, staying well below the 8% rate that would require closures.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said San Diego has worked hard on contact tracing and testing and that authorities were still trying to understand the reasons for a jump in its case rate earlier this month. He noted an outbreak of more than 850 cases at San Diego State University.

“These are going to be ongoing conversations to understand where a county is,” Ghaly said.

California has seen remarkable recent success with the virus but the campus outbreak threatened to put San Diego over a state threshold for cases that mandates many businesses close or restrict indoor operations.

For some, it would have marked the third closure since California instituted the nation’s first statewide shutdown order in March.

It has been a dizzying turn of events for the county of 3.3 million residents that less than a month ago was the only one in Southern California with virus case numbers low enough to advance to a second level in the state’s four-tiered system for reopening.

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