Orange County allowed more reopenings; LA County remains in the most restrictive tier for COVID-19 measures

State officials on Tuesday painted a more promising picture of how California is doing with COVID-19, but cautioned that residents’ actions over the holiday weekend may hinder progress in the coming weeks.

State health secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly updated the public on county numbers for the second time since announcing the new statewide framework for reopening. This time, five counties improved from “purple,” the color for areas where the virus is considered widespread, to the less-serious designation of “red,” including Orange County, which had just been taken off the state’s watchlist when the state changed systems. This means certain business sectors will be allowed to reopen and some will be allowed indoor services at limited capacity, like restaurants and movie theaters.

Los Angeles County is still in the purple tier, but it is making progress toward lowering the number of new cases per day.

Counties are now judged by case rate and test positivity in order to move to more lenient tiers. LA County is at a 4.3% positivity rate and 9.6 cases per 100,000 residents, down from 10.2 cases. To get to the red tier, LA County must have less than seven adjusted cases per 100,000 people and a less than 8% positivity rate for two consecutive weeks. Once they move tiers, counties must spend three weeks in their new tier.

Hospitalizations have been trending down statewide, dropping 24% over the 14 days. Intensive care rates are also down.

Gov. Gavin Newsom reiterated that the reopenings and the requirements to reopen will continue to be “slow and stringent” to avoid outbreaks once counties reopen. He noted Labor Day weekend that just passed when he said the state would “hold the line” on reopenings until officials know how the case rates are affected.

“Three-day holiday weekends have not been advantageous in terms of mitigation of the spread of this virus,” Newsom said. “You look back at some seminal periods where we experienced larger spread, a large surge of transmissions, that tended to occur two to three weeks after, say, Fourth of July weekends.”

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Valerie Osier is a breaking news and crime reporter for the Long Beach Post. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from the Cal State Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband and two cats.
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