After Gov. Gavin Newsom warned Monday that some of California’s counties would be falling back in his coronavirus reopening protocols, the state’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mark Ghaly, announced on Tuesday that nearly a dozen counties are being required to move back to more restrictive measures.
A total of 11 counties, including one of the state’s most populous, fell back in the governor’s tiering structure. Sacramento, Stanislaus and San Diego retreated to the most restrictive Purple tier. That means movie theaters in those counties — which had been allowed to reopen up to 100 people or 25%, whichever is less in the Red tier — must shutter indoor operations again.
Other moves included Amador, Contra Costa, Placer, Santa Cruz and El Dorado counties going from the Orange tier down to the more restrictive Red tier. Modoc, Siskiyu and Trinity moved back to Orange. Yolo County, also at risk of demotion, stayed in the Red tier. No counties moved forward.
Los Angeles now sits firmly within the Purple tier. L.A. County health officials said last week that they do not anticipate the county moving out of the Purple Tier any time soon.
You can view a chart of the tiers and their restrictions in the tweet below.
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
California reported 5,367 new daily cases on Tuesday, coming close to 1 million milestone at 977,000. The seven-day average now is over 6,000. According to Ghaly, Tuesday’s number reflects Sunday data that often is lower.
The state currently has a 3.7% test positivity rate. Ghaly cautioned that the seven-day test positivity is 4.2%. “We haven’t seen test positivity rates above 4 since August,” he said.
Hospitalizations due to COVID had increased 3.4% just since Monday. Patients in the ICU due to COVID-19 were up more than 4% vs. Monday. Those are big one-day jumps.
The state’s number of new cases per 100,000 people was 8.4% as of Tuesday. If taken as a whole, that rate would put the entire state in the most restrictive tier.
“Almost all counties in the state are in an upward trajectory,” said Ghaly. Even worse: If those trends continue, between this week and next week, he said, more than half of California’s 58 counties will have moved into a more restrictive tier.
To business owners who might be forced to shut down again. Ghaly said, “We want to continue to work with all our business owners, big and small, across the state.”
On Monday, Disneyland announced that it will be furloughing another group of workers at the park. The bulk of the hit — or 67%, the company said — will fall on part-time workers.
Also on Monday, Regal Cinemas said it will shutter its 18 locations still open in New York and California, effective Thursday.
The governor said on Monday that, as the numbers increased, the state was being well served by his decision to develop a tiering structure that was “more restrictive not based on political whim, but based upon data.”
“The tier system is working as designed,” he asserted, before warning that the state was definitely seeing the “second wave” of the virus.
“I am concerned that we may be over exuberant that we now have a safe vaccine and people may go back to their usual form,” said Newsom. “The availability to people like you and me is a long way off. Do not take your guard down.” First responders, he reminded Californians, will get any vaccine first.
The governor said we likely yet have the worst months of the pandemic before most of us have access to a vaccine. “We should see a mass distribution of these vaccines [beginning] in April,” he predicted.
“Let us double down on the work that we have done together, on non-pharmaceutical interventions” like masks and social distancing, he pleaded.