‘San Diego Means Business’ rally calls on county supervisors to defy state on reopening

by Angela Kurysh and Mackenzie Stafford

This article was published on The Daily Aztec website on September 21, 2020.

A rally was held outside the San Diego County Administration building on Sept. 21 to protest a third county-wide shutdown and encourage county supervisors to defy state reopening guidelines. 

The rally was held before County Supervisors entered a closed session to discuss their options after Gov. Newson denied the county’s request to remove San Diego State COVID-19 cases – which are now nearing 900 – from the county total. 

On Sept. 22 the state will release data that will provide a definitive answer to the question of whether San Diego county will be bumped back to the purple tier. If this is the case most indoor business operations will be shut down including gyms, restaurants, churches, and movie theaters.

Unless county supervisors take action against the state or choose not to enforce guidelines altogether. 

County Supervisor Jim Desmond, who spoke at the rally, is in favor of this approach. On Sept. 14 Desmond introduced a motion to allow businesses and churches to open up and restaurants to operate at full capacity, only as long as masks were worn. None of his colleagues on the board supported the motion. Though many agree that SDSU’s cases should not be counted.

County residents and business owners gathered at Waterfront Park in front of the county administration at the “SD Means Business” rally on Sept. 21 Brenden Tuccinardi

Last week, supervisors argued that COVID-19 cases associated with SDSU should be excluded because the campus community was a “community within a community” and would have little impact on the county as a whole. Without the SDSU cases, the county’s case rate would be within the 4.0 and 7.0 range necessary to remain in the red tier. 

Christy, a restaurant worker and county resident who asked to be referred by her first-name-only said she thinks SDSU’s cases should not be included.

“I think they should be removed,” Christy said. “Because we know it is an isolated situation in that area so if you take those out then everyone else would still be able to thrive.”

A common misconception among the members gathered at the rally was that SDSU’s total cases were made up of all on-campus residents, however, the 882 confirmed cases include students from all across San Diego county. 

As stated in a university-wide email, approximately 75% of SDSU’s confirmed cases consist of off-campus students.

Industry worker, Julia Geygan said the SDSU cases should be included, but the tier system itself was flawed.

“Yeah I do I think that they should be counted in the total, they are people who live in San Diego county but I think they are also isolated incidents and I think that we’ve been able to identify these incidents and where these breakouts are happening and that’s where our focus needs to be, not the areas where breakouts aren’t happening,” Geygan said.

Another county resident agreed, saying the tier system was the main problem at hand, and that he was frustrated at the mental health repercussions of being shut down.

“Shutting us down like this is more dangerous, detrimental, and fatal than COVID ever was,” he said. “It’s dangerous because of the depression statistics, the suicide statistics, the alcoholism rate is back up, the amount of domestic abuse is increased.”

A county resident dressed as Princess Leia said she doesn’t want to lose her job for the third time due to another county-wide shutdown. She dressed as Princess Leia to show her rebellion against the figureheads who in her words “don’t always have our best interest at heart.”

A San Diego county resident dressed as Princess Leia from Star Wars is against strict reopening guidelines. (Brenden Tuccinardi)

“Leia,” who asked to remain anonymous, also said that she thinks herd immunity is something the community should be striving towards.

“So I think it’s great that young people are catching it and that they are healthy and that they’re fine and that they’re mostly a-symptomatic because, in the long run, it protects everybody else. I think it’s a good thing,” she said.

However, it is uncertain if natural infection herd immunity is a real possibility for COVID-19 since there is no data that proves whether being infected gives one immunity to the virus according to the CDC.

“Leia” also said she thinks totals and proportions of cases are not helpful in determining the risk of the virus. 

“We are finding out that some of the tests are coming back positive that haven’t even been taken, some are coming back double counted so if you can’t rely on the numbers it doesn’t make any sense to count their (SDSU’s ) cases or not count their cases,” she said. “The counting cases versus counting deaths is where I think it is not very helpful.”

To be clear “Leia’s” claim is false. There is no evidence to support the claim that positive COVID-19 tests are being double-counted or that health agencies are reporting positive cases associated with tests never taken. 

The tier status of San Diego county will be announced on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

Brenden Tuccinardi contributed reporting to this story.

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