On Tuesday, California Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mark Ghaly announced that 9 counties would be moving into less-restrictive stages of the state’s COVID-19 reopening tiers.
Moving from purple — “most restrictive” — to red are Riverside, Alameda, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo and Solano.
Moving from red to orange — “moderate” — are El Dorado, Lassen and Nevada.
One county even slid into yellow, which is “minimal.” That was Mariposa.
San Diego, which had been rumored to be moving back into purple, remained in red.
When asked specifically about that county Gahly said, “We certainly see a county that is hovering around that threshold between red and purple. We continue to have conversations about how we as a state can support San Diego as well as learn more about what San Diego is doing in terms of things like [spread at] San Diego State.”
San Diego is essentially at zero weeks in terms of moving back to purple from red. It would take two weeks for it to move back to purple.”
Ghaly said Ventura county had reached out about the possibility of moving from purple to red. “My message to Ventura county is that…we have our framework. A county like Ventura can move from purple to red, but we’re not going to compromise our process.”
San Francisco was another county that some had expected to move into a less-restrictive tier. Ghaly confirmed that the county had asked state officials to look at its data and consider tier movement, but that the state was still in that process.
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
In terms of the long-discussed and yet-to-be-released “Equity Metric” for counties to reopen, Ghaly said he hopes “it creates an opportunity for each county to shine in this regard” and not fall backwards.
Governor Gavin Newsom has described the equity metric thusly: “Those [counties] that are under-testing and are not testing in diverse communities,” said Newsom, “that’s a factor that’s considered as well.”
Ghaly did not say when details would be released.
But Ghaly did have news about one sector.
“Statewide,” he said, “nail salons able to resume operations” under the purple tier, “with some new additions to that sector’s guidance.”
Ghaly then issued a warning.
“The flu season right around the corner,” he said. “Being outdoors is a little more challenging.”
“We’re seeing,” he observed, “in some states a second wave — starting in Europe.”
Indeed, British Prime Minister announced new, tighter restrictions in the U.K. on Tuesday including, according to the Wall Street Journal, “tougher enforcement of social-distancing rules, with fines of up to 10,000 pounds, equivalent to $12,800, for businesses that fail to adhere to them.”
The U.S. crossed the grim threshold on Tuesday of 200,000 Americans dead from the virus.
Asked about the milestone Dr. Anthony Fauci said at CNN’s Citizens conference on Tuesday, “We’re getting into a weather season where people will be spending more time indoors and depending upon your own social situation, indoors for you or another person may mean poor ventilation, poor airflow and difficulty getting the kind of removal of anything that would lead to spread.
“The fact is, we know we could get into serious trouble if we don’t do certain things,” Fauci warned. “And I hope that that understanding is not going to frighten people but will jolt them into realizing that it is within our hands to prevent that.”
Given those considerations, Ghaly said of further sector easing: “I will reserve final judgement for a couple more weeks until we see increases from Labor Day as well as some of our sectors that have been allowed to reopen.”
In fact, on Monday California officially reported that more and 15,000 of its residents have died from Coronavirus since the pandemic began. That came as daily deaths have been dropping in the state, but that number still remains stubbornly higher than were it was at the beginning of July.
On Tuesday California reported 2,630 new coronavirus cases, for a total of 784,324.
There were 53 new COVID-related deaths in the state, for a total of 15,071.
In terms of testing, results for 131,273 people were recorded. The 14-day positivity rate of those tests was 3.0%.
Hospitalizations were very slightly up, while the number of coronavirus patients in the ICU was again down.