Scripps data experts worked with Columbia University to evaluate the temporary phase 3 reopening last summer

SAN DIEGO — Scripps data experts worked with Columbia University to evaluate the temporary phase 3 reopening last summer.

The model shows that the 25-day reopening in San Diego last summer could be to blame for 45 deaths at local Scripps Hospitals alone.

The study looked at the effects of business reopening and the lowering of health restrictions in the area. Two deaths a day at local Scripps hospitals could have been avoided had the restrictions remained in place.

“Our research shows that community restrictions work, and that message couldn’t be any more important than now as federal health officials warn that a fourth COVID-19 surge could be around the corner if we let our guard down too much and too quickly,” said Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder. “While our efforts at Scripps have been focused on providing the best care possible to all of our patients throughout this period, we believe the knowledge and experience we have gained in our fight against this disease will help others in the community as they continue to respond to the ever-changing conditions of this health crisis.”

The short-lived reopening began on June 12, 2020. County officials gave the okay for restaurants and bars and gyms to restart limited indoor use and activities under the Phase 3 state guidelines.

That was followed by a spike in COVID-19 cases in the area. On July 7th, of 2020 the county was forced to shut down indoor activities for gyms and close restaurants and bars for indoor service.

“These findings mirror recent conclusions by some experts nationally that more lives could have been saved had restrictions been put in place earlier and for a longer period during the pandemic. The findings also validate efforts that help to minimize the spread of the virus, such as wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and avoiding large gatherings.

Had county officials left the stricter restrictions in place, 400 COVID-19 hospitalizations and 45 deaths might have been avoided at Scripps’ five hospital campuses, the researchers found. Under the second scenario, 172 hospitalizations and 19 deaths might have been avoided had the temporary reopening been shortened by one week”

The authors say the lesson learned here is that we must continue to keep our guards up and stringently follow health guidelines even as more of the population gets vaccinated.

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