Los Angeles County’s one-week numbers on Tuesday dipped into the red tier of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Covid-19 reopening plan. It’s the first time since the governor introduced his Blueprint for a Safer Economy that the state’s largest county has sniffed the possibility of the most restrictive purple tier and into the red. If L.A. can maintain its numbers for just more week, it will officially enter the red tier and a slew of businesses will be able to reopen, including movie theaters — to 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is less.
Speaking of which, two of the state’s other large counties, one of which is home to Disneyland, also saw their first week of red tier numbers this week. Those counties — Orange and San Bernardino — may also be able to make the jump next week if they again qualify. Those regions and L.A. account for 15 million of the state’s 40 million residents.
Moving from the restrictive “purple” tier into the red tier will authorize the county to increase capacity limits at retail establishments and reopen indoor dining, fitness centers and movie theaters.
To qualify, a county must have under seven daily cases per 100,000 residents. On Tuesday, the county notched 6.9 daily cases per 100,000. That daily case rate is adjusted for each county based on dozens of factors. As a result, L.A.’s adjusted case rate is even better, at 5.2. It would need to dip below 4 per 100,000 to qualify for the even less restrictive orange tier.
NEW: California is launching a Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
Your county will be assigned a color based on:
– Case rate
– Positivity rate
Your color determines how businesses can operate in your county.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) August 28, 2020
LA has been qualified for weeks in the other two determinative measures, test positivity rate and health equity quartile.
According to the CA Department of Public Health, nine counties moved from the Purple (widespread) to red (substantial) tier. Those regions are Alameda, Butte, Calaveras, Imperial, Santa Cruz and Solano counties. Two counties moved from Red (substantial) to Orange (moderate) tier: Mariposa and Plumas. Alpine County moved from Orange (substantial) to Yellow (minimal). A total of 34 counties remain in the Purple (widespread) tier, 20 are in the Red (substantial) tier, three are in the Orange (moderate) tier and one is in the Yellow (minimal) tier.
As for L.A. — and many other regions, for that matter — it could open even sooner than next Tuesday.
The California Department of Public Health revealed recently that once the state has administered 2 million vaccine doses in disadvantaged neighborhoods, it will make moving from the purple to red tier much easier. Instead of less than seven daily cases per 100,000 residents, counties only have to move below 10 cases per 100,000.
What’s more, the change will be retroactive, adding a week of credit for any county that missed out due to having a case rate between seven and 10 per 100,000 residents.
The tier list will be updated one day after California crosses 2 million shots administered within the bottom economic quartile. On Tuesday, that group was just short of 1.9 million. That could mean a big announcement during Governor Gavin Newsom’s State of the State address Tuesday evening.
In addition to Los Angeles, the eight additional counties ranging from seven to 10 daily cases per 100,000 in both of the past two list updates while also meeting test positivity requirements are Colusa, Contra Costa, Mendocino, Orange, San Benito, San Bernardino, Siskiyou and Sonoma. Amador was below 10 per 100,000 last week but jumped up again this week.
However, there is a catch to that catch. Counties are not bound by the state guidelines on loosening restrictions. They can continue to impose stricter rules.
For instance, while L.A. county currently allows outdoor dining in the purple tier, it still forbids restaurants from turning on television sets on their patios as a way of preventing gatherings of sports fans. The state has no such restriction on restaurants.
Governor Gavin Newsom has repeatedly stated for the past year that he wanted to give local health officers latitude in reopenings, allowing them to be more strict — but not less strict — than state rules.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Monday that while the county is fully committed to implementing one key element of the red tier — the reopening of in-person classes for students in grades 7 through 12 — she would only say health officials are in discussions with the Board of Supervisors about other business reopenings. And she again insisted that in- person dining at restaurants presents a high risk of COVID-19 transmission.
“We are working with the Board of Supervisors and all of our sectors to plan for what will be a sensible and safe reopening as permitted by the state, but as appropriate for our county,” Ferrer said. “And we’ll be sure to share that information not only with all of you but really importantly with all of the sectors in a very timely way later this week.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
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