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More people tested key to high schoolers’ campus return
covid 19 graphic

The only way seventh through 12th graders in Manteca Unified or Ripon Unified can start returning to the classroom is if more people get tested for the COVID-19 virus.

That’s because until San Joaquin County gets its positivity rate from new cases down to 5 percent or below for at least two weeks, in-classroom instruction will not be allowed to resume for 7th and 8th graders as well as high school students in Manteca Unified or any other district.

In order to reach that point more testing is needed of heathy people to dilute the rate per 100,000 of new positive cases per day. Although some healthy people may have COVID-19 virus and not show symptoms or ever get ill, most will come up negative in testing

Manteca Unified Community Outreach Coordinator Victoria Brunn said the district is working to find a medical partner willing to provide free testing at a centralized school site that would be promoted through the district’s online connection with upwards of 20,000 households that have students in Manteca Unified schools.

“There is nothing we can do to reopen schools until there is increased testing,” Brunn noted of the state imposed requirement.

There is one free testing site already in Manteca offered by CVS. For information and to make an appointment go to

Kaiser members can get testing at the Manteca facility. More information is available by calling 824-5051.

As of Tuesday, San Joaquin County had a positivity rate of 7.1 percent per 100,000. That is almost double the 5 percent target for school re-openings.

The positivity rate — while an improvement over 9.1 percent on Sept. 8 — it is still high enough to keep the county in the purple tier that is the highest of four tiers as outlined by the state.

More people within the county getting tested would also benefit businesses.

Dropping down to the next tier which is red would allow restaurants to start serving indoor again at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower.

Gyms and health clubs can open but only at 10 percent capacity.

Being in the red allows retail operations to go from 25 percent to 50 percent capacity. Body waxing salons and tattoo parlors along with other personal services can open indoors with modifications. Cultural ceremonies will be allowed at whichever is lowest — 25 percent capacity or 100 people.

The third tier which is orange requires a daily new case positivity rate between 1 and 3.9 cases per 100,000.

Gyms can operate at 25 percent capacity in the orange tier while restaurants at 50 percent capacity or 200 people, whichever is less.

This stage allows bars and other locations that serve alcoholic beverages without meals to open outdoor operations. Cardrooms can move indoor with 25 percent capacity. Family entertainment centers cam open indoors for what is described as “naturally distanced” activities such as bowling alleys and climbing walls as long as they adhere to medications and capacity is capped at 25 percent.

Cultural ceremonies can be at 50 percent capacity as long as it is still below 100 people.

The fourth tier is yellow and requires being under a 2 percent daily positive rate for new cases.

Gyms can operate at 50 percent capacity in the yellow tier. Restaurants are still at 50 percent capacity but there is no numeric cap on the overall number.

Most indoor businesses can open at this point with modifications.

There will not, however be unlimited movement as there was prior to the pandemic. Restrictions will still exist.

Concert venues, conventions and festivals will remain closed.

Postings on the San Joaquin County COVID-19 dashboard on Wednesday as 1 p.m. show 1,260 persons out of 760,000 San Joaquin County residents are currently positive with the virus although they are not necessarily sick. That is the number once you subtract the 18,363 people that health officials have determined to have recovered from the 19,623 cases since March

Many of the recovered may never have been ill. The mask order and social distancing is designed to protect people from those who may not know they are carrying the virus and who may never show symptoms.

There were 59 new cases Wednesday.

There have been 399 deaths in San Joaquin County. Of those, 11.8 percent did not have pre-existing conditions such as asthma, obesity, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, or diabetes

There were 53 COVID-19 patients countywide with 21 using ICU beds.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email