COVID-19 Risk Map Aug 31

The State of California has a new system for ranking risk of COVID-19 transmission by county — and rules for each of four categories.

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Del Norte County ranks along with eight other counties in California as having "moderate" for COVID-19 transmission as of a map published for Aug. 31.

"Moderate" is one of four rankings given to the state's 58 counties. Only three counties received a "minimal" ranking, while nine were ranked "substantial" and in the remaining 38 the virus is deemed to be "widespread."

The new rankings were unveiled late last week as part of California's new Blueprint for a Safer Economy and replace the state's earlier county watch list.

The categories are based upon a few metrics — and will be used to determine which sectors of California's economy can open up — and when.

Ranking are as follows:

  • Minimal: Less than one daily new case (per 100k and less than 2% positive tests.
  • Moderate: One to 3.9 daily new cases (per 100k) and 2-4.9% positive tests.
  • Substantial: 4 to 7 daily new cases (per 100k) and 5 to 8% positive tests.
  • Widespread: More than 7 daily new cases (per 100k) and more than 8% positive tests.

If a county’s case rate and positivity rate fall into different tiers, the county remains in the stricter tier.

Every county in California is assigned to a tier based on its rate of new cases and positivity. At a minimum, counties must remain in a tier for at least three weeks before moving forward. Data is reviewed weekly and tiers will be updated on Tuesdays. To move forward, a county must meet the next tier’s criteria for two consecutive weeks. If a county’s metrics worsen for two consecutive weeks, it will be assigned a more restrictive tier. Public health officials are constantly monitoring data and can step in if necessary.

Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" on the state's website include why can some businesses reopen and others cannot?

According to the website, activities and businesses that have a lower risk of spreading COVID-19 are allowed to open sooner. Higher-risk activities or businesses aren’t allowed until later tiers. An activity or business’s tier depends on whether it can:

  • Accommodate mask wearing at all times (for example, eating and drinking requires removing masks)
  • Allow physical distance between individuals from different households
  • Limit the number of people per square foot
  • Limit time that an individual is at the business or activity
  • Limit time of exposure
  • Limit mixing of people from different households
  • Limit amount of physical interactions of visitors/patrons
  • Increase airflow (such as operating outdoors or opening windows and doors) 
  • Limit activities that are known to increase virus spread (like singing, shouting and heavy breathing)

For areas of the state where the virus is considered widespread, there will be a relaxation of restrictions on Aug. 31. In those counties some businesses and activities will be able to reopen with modifications, including all retail, shopping centers at maximum 25% capacity, and hair salons and barbershops indoors. (These businesses already are allowed to be open in Del Norte County).

Schools in the counties ranked "widespread" cannot reopen for in-person instruction without a waiver from the local health department. However, schools in most other counties — including Del Norte — can reopen if they follow guidelines in a new 20-page document published by the state.

At this point, Del Norte plans to reopen schools Aug. 31 with only distance learning, but has plans to phase into in-person instruction later in the year, depending upon the status of the virus.

And for those who wonder what their county can do to achieve a less restrictive ranking, the state offers this advice:

  • Wear a mask in public.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Keep at least six feet of physical distance when in public.
  • Limit mixing with people you don’t live with.
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