On Friday, he made good on that promise, revealing a new framework with four tiers with colors attached to them to indicate severity.
The governor described the new framework as “simple, stringent and slow.”
Case rates and test positivity rates will be the metrics that will determine movement within the tiers which, in terms of severity run from purple to red to orange to yellow. These categories replace the state watchlist that had previously dictated whether counties could reopen or would need to close.
State director of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly said case rates and positivity rates are the best, earliest numbers on which to base decisions before infections get too far down the road. See chart below.
There will also be an “emergency brake” condition that can be employed if a county’s hospitalization numbers become worrisome. That brake cold be employed more quickly than the mandated watch periods mentioned below, said Ghaly. Newsom then affirmed that “that emergency brake is foundational.”
The governor said 87 percent of the state’s population currently falls into the purple category. San Diego and San Francisco both are rated red, which is lower risk than purple. That means they can open indoor theaters with these modifications: 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
Orange County also seems to be close to moving into red. These numbers are only 7 day averages, but the test positivity rate is 5.6 percent. It only has to be under 8 percent. The number of cases per 100,000 has to be under 25. O.C. is currently at 82.4 over 7 days. So they make the cut by one measure, but not another. That could change soonish.
Los Angeles County is on the border between purple and red. The region’s 7-day test average positivity rate is 5.6 percent, which falls below the state’s limit of 8 percent. But that average is only over 7 days. The state now requires a 21-day average below the 8 percent mark. It is unclear from the county’s COVID-19 dashboard if that is the case.
As for the other determinative metric, new COVID cases per 100,000, that number is supposed to be under 7 for three weeks in order for a county to reopen. L.A.’s number of cases per 100,000 over the past two weeks is far above that, at 13.1. Again, from a look at the county’s data web site, it is unclear what L.A.’s three-week number per 100,000 is. That would be the number state officials look at.
The state is also considering “equity” among populations as a factor.
One crucial aspect: Instead of 14 days with measurements below the mandated levels to move from one tier to another, it will now take 21 days. Counties will no longer have the ability apply for waivers. Finally, while the state will require 21 days in order to lift restrictions, it will only take 14 days of too-high numbers to move to a more restrictive state.
The first weekly assessment of counties’ numbers will come on September 8th. That is the first chance for counties to move from one tier to another. Furthermore, according to Ghaly, after a county moves from one tier to another, there is an additional two-week waiting period before schools can open.
Counties may employ more stringent guidelines that the state, but they cannot move to lower-level guidelines without state approval.
“We wanted to make adjustments based on input we’ve received from county heath experts and members of respective industries,” said Newsom.
In terms of COVID data reporting. on Friday, the state reported 5,329 new cases and 140 new deaths. Hospitalizations and ICU beds occupied by coronavirus patients are likewise down.
Newsom said those numbers were a reminder that the virus has not gone away and that his announcement should not be seen as about “reopening the economy.” The governor indicated that, with flu season approaching, the state has a long way to go.
On Wednesday, a press release from the Department of Public Health began rolling out new guidance for in-person child supervision and limited instruction, targeted support services, and facilitation of distance learning in small group environments. The guidance is meant to help those programs to understand the required health and safety practices needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their settings.
Much of what’s new centers around learning “cohorts,” which are described as “a stable group of no more than 14 children or youth and no more than two supervising adults in a supervised environment in which supervising adults and children stay together for all activities — e.g., meals, recreation, etc. — and avoid contact with people outside of their group in the setting.” The guidance recommends groups smaller than 14 whenever possible.
Watch Newsom’s announcement below.
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