California is replacing its coronavirus monitoring list with a new tiered system that emphasizes a slower reopening timeline.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced the new program during a Friday press conference, when he was expected, but did not, unveil new reopening guidelines following improving statewide COVID-19 metrics.
The new tiered system places more strict requirements on counties, expected to help prevent a new spike of cases and hospitalizations, like the one that occurred in July after the state last announced reopening plans.
There are four tiers: purple, representing widespread transmission; red, or substantial transmission; orange, or moderate; and yellow, or minimal. Each color represents how businesses can operate in each county, the governor said.
About 38 counties, including Orange County, representing 87% of California’s population have been placed in the most stringent “purple” tier.
Counties are placed in this tier if they have more than seven new daily cases per 100,000 residents, and a testing percentage above 8%.
To enter into the red tier, counties must have four to seven daily new cases and a positive test rate between 5% and 8%. The moderate tier is for counties with one to 3.9 new daily cases and a 2% to 4.9% testing rate; and the minimal tier is less than one daily new case and a positive testing rate below 2%.
Each county is required to stay in each tier for at least 21 days, and they must maintain the next tier’s metrics for two straight weeks in order to move out of their current tier, and enter into reopening phases.
After a county moves from one tier to another, there is an additional two-week waiting period before schools can open.
In the past week, Orange County had about 9.6 new daily cases per 100,000 residents, and an average testing percentage of 6%.
The state will assess counties’ numbers each week, starting Sept. 8.
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