Five counties move out of CA’s most restrictive tier

Gov. Gavin Newsom. Courtesy of the Office of the Governor

Five California counties can now move into lesser COVID-19 restrictions, such as limited indoor dining, but Los Angeles County remains under the state’s most restrictive health guidelines, officials announced Tuesday. 

Under the state’s “stringent and slow,” color-coded reopening metrics, Amador, Orange, Placer, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties have upgraded from the “purple” tier and into “red,” meaning they now have a “substantial” spread of the virus rather than “widespread.” 

More closely, these counties are each now seeing four to seven new diagnoses per 100,000 residents per day and a testing positivity rate of 5%-8%. They will have permission to allow some indoor businesses to resume indoor operations, although with a 25% capacity. 

“(The counties) all moved from ‘purple’ to ‘red,’ meaning that they have now met for two consecutive weeks, the threshold around data metrics. That’s the test positivity rate and the adjusted case rates that we track over a seven-day period,” said Health and Human Service Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly during a live broadcast, adding that they must remain at least three weeks in “red” in order to continue moving to less restrictive levels. 

State Public Health officials provided an update of where California’s 58 counties land in the four-category blueprint: 33 under “purple,” 14 under “red,” nine under “orange,” and two under “yellow.” 

Los Angeles County has remained in the “widespread” category for its reported daily average case rate of 13.1 new cases per 100,000 residents and a 5% test positivity rate, according to county Public Health officials. While the county meets the percentage of tests returning positive, it must meet both metrics before moving into “red.” 

On Labor Day, Public Health officials reported 25 new deaths and just less than 500 new cases, low figures attributed to a delay in test and death reports over the weekend and the closure of testing sites over the holiday. Statewide, new cases and hospitalizations have dropped, as well as the positivity rate, which now stands at 3.8%. Still, Ghaly cautioned residents to remain vigilant. 

“We need to remain vigilant and confident that the trends are coming down, especially as we enter flu season,” he said. “So, although we field many questions about the pace of our framework and the interest by many to say, can it move a little bit more quickly, we are confident that going slow and stringent is going to be the way that carries us forward and ensures that we don’t move back.” 

Tier updates are expected to be released every Tuesday. 

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