California Director of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mark Ghaly, gave the state’s update on Tuesday.
Tuesday is the day when counties have the chance to move from one tier of the state’s reopening system to another — see chart below. Last week, Orange County was moved from the most restrictive purple tier to red, allowing movie theaters there to partially reopen. This week, the counties making that move are Inyo, Marin and Tehama.
Marin County was expecting to come off the purple tier last week. County officials had been in communication with the state and all seemed well. Until it wasn’t.
According to Marin, the state reanalyzed its data and applied a new method for determining a county’s position on the four-tiered monitoring framework. The new approach includes a different timeframe for calculating a county’s case rate and a new adjustment for counties testing more than the state average.
Thirty counties still remain in the purple tier, among them Los Angeles.
Numbers in L.A. County are coming more in line with the state’s requirements for further reopening. When asked about that Ghaly said, “Indeed their transmission rates are coming down. We’ve seen increased testing. A focus on disproportionately impacted communities…contact tracing.”
A reverse case may be that of San Diego. Alongside San Francisco, San Diego county qualified to move from purple to red two weeks back. That allowed each to reopen indoor theaters with 25% capacity or 100 people per screen, whichever is fewer. Now, San Diego’s numbers have backslid.
“We’ve been in close contact with San Diego,” said Ghaly, “really trying to understand what might contribute to the rise in cases.
“We want to make sure that any decision we make to move a county back a tier is done slowly and with consideration,” he said. “The entire backbone to the backbone of a safer economy is this idea of being ‘slow and stringent.’”
The HHS chief said “We don’t have enough evidence” to determine if the spike is related to businesses reopening in San Diego. “We hope we can put steps in place and get us back on track that they were enjoying a few weeks back.”
“There’s a whole host of counties that meet the criteria for moving from purple to red this week,” added Ghaly and, if they can keep that up for another 7 days, they will be allowed to move down.
The key indicators for movement are new coronavirus per day per 100,000 residents and the daily test positivity rate.
Next week will also be the first time that some counties will be allowed to move from orange to red or red to yellow, if they qualify.
As for the daily counts, there were 2,235 new cases of coronavirus identified in California on Tuesday. There were 66 new virus-related deaths. Statewide, the test positivity rate is 3.6%. That’s the lowest it’s been since March.