A recap of CA’s tiered system following end of stay-at-home order

COVID-19. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.

With California’s regional “Stay-at-Home” order lifted Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state’s colored, tiered system would be re-assessed, starting Tuesday. 

The lifted order leaves L.A. County and 53 other counties in the state’s purple tier, meaning these areas have “widespread” COVID-19 cases and have the most restrictions. 

L.A. County Public Health officials announced the following can immediately reopen with limitations required under its current tier: 

  • Private gatherings: outdoor-only and with no more than three households or a 15-person limit. 
  • Indoors at 25% capacity: personal care, malls and retail. 
  • Outdoors at 50% capacity: family entertainment centers and cardrooms.  

Places of worship can resume indoors although they are recommended for outdoors, gyms must provide outdoor services and tourism and individual travel is allowed. A new health officer order is expected to be released Friday with updates on outdoor dining.  

The move comes as the county has seen a decline in daily COVID-19 hospitalizations; however, “health care workers and ICU capacity remain overwhelmed,” county Public Health officials said Saturday. 

Southern California has remained at zero ICU availability but Newsom said the decision to lift the statewide order is due to a four-week projection that coronavirus numbers are expected to improve. The state anticipates the region, which includes L.A. County, to reach 33.3% ICU capacity by Feb. 21. 

Here’s a recap of the colored system and what that means for L.A. County. 

What’s the blueprint system? 

Under California’s tiered system, dubbed “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” counties are categorized under one of four levels: purple, red, orange and yellow. Two metrics determine when they move up or down those four tiers: case rate, or the seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 individuals; and positivity rate, or the percentage of positive tests. 

A county must meet the metrics of a less restrictive level for two consecutive weeks before making the switch, and they must wait for at least three weeks between each move. Counties can and have returned to a more stringent tier when their metrics have worsened for two straight weeks. 

Colored tiers determine what can and cannot open in each county, albeit local governments can implement stricter orders but not less stringent than what California imposes. 

Courtesy of covid19.ca.gov

Purple tier

Counties in the purple tier, where L.A. County has remained since August, have more than seven daily new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people and have more than 8% of tests returning positive. 

As of Monday, L.A. County had 150.7 new COVID-19 daily cases per 100,000 individuals and a seven-day average positivity rate of 17.1%, according to state data

Indoor operations allowed with limitations, including a 25% capacity: hair salons and barbershops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and other personal care businesses, retailers and shopping malls. Places of worship can hold indoor and outdoor services following a Supreme Court ruling but attendance cannot exceed the number of people who can be accommodated while maintaining physical distancing. 

Outdoors only: restaurants; movie theaters, museums and zoos; gyms; wineries; family entertainment centers like mini-golf and batting cages; and cardrooms. 

Red tier

Counties with a “substantial” spread of the virus fall under the red tier. They have anywhere between four to seven new diagnoses per 100,000 residents per day and a testing positivity rate of 5%-8%. 

Capacity increases for businesses in sectors that are allowed to open for indoor services, such as shopping malls with an increased capacity of no more than 50%. Restaurants can move indoors with a 25% capacity under this level. 

Only three counties — Alpine, Mariposa and Trinity — are in red. 

Orange tier

Those in this tier have “moderate” COVID-19 cases, as they are seeing 1-3.9 daily new cases per 100,000 individuals, with testing positivity rates between 2%-4.9%.

Bars, breweries and distilleries that do not offer food can open in this stage but only outdoors with modifications. Many sectors that could only operate outdoors, such as family entertainment centers and card rooms, can return inside with a 25% capacity. 

Only Sierra County falls under this category. 

Yellow tier 

Counties in the yellow tier are having a “minimal” spread of the virus with less than one daily new case per 100,000 and a positivity rate of less than 2%. 

Most businesses can resume indoors with a 50% capacity when reaching this level, although mass gatherings will not be allowed, meaning concert venues, festivals and other events with live audiences remain prohibited. 

There are currently no counties in the yellow tier. 

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