On Tuesday, Health and Human Services (CHHS) Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced that 11 Californian counties would be moving into more restrictive tiers as the number of new cases and the positivity rates in those counties have gone significantly up since late October.
On Tuesday, the following county changes were made:
Yellow (Minimal) to Orange (Moderate):
- Modoc County
- Siskiyou County
- Trinity County
Orange (Moderate) to Red (Substantial)
- Amador County
- Contra Costa County
- El Dorado County
- Placer County
- Santa Cruz County
Red (Substantial) to Purple (Widespread)
- Sacramento County
- San Diego County
- Stanislaus County
While all tier changes mean more restrictions and educed capacities at businesses, the red to purple tier change is due to hit the hardest due to the high population of both Sacramento and San Diego Counties, as wells as how far the new restrictions go, such as re-closing all indoor dining and forcing restaurants to only have outdoor dining and takeout options.
“We anticipate if things stay the way they are, that between this week and next week over half of California counties will have moved into a more restrictive tier,” said Dr. Ghaly during the press conference on Tuesday. “That certainly is an indication that we’re concerned.”
Dr. Ghaly also noted an upswing in the number of new cases in California in the last few weeks, as well as higher positivity rates and steep increases in the number of hospitalizations and ICU cases. According to the CHHS, positivity rate has gone up over 14 days from 2.9% on October 26th to 3.7% on November 10th. Meanwhile, COVID hospitalizations have also gone up by 36% in the past two weeks to 3,083 cases statewide, with ICU hospitalizations going up 29% to 859 cases. And Dr. Ghaly warned that these number only indicate that the number of cases will increase throughout November.
“The trend that we’ve been seeing as we continue to learn about COVID transmission is when we identify cases today, we expect to see some of those cases, approximately 12% of those cases, end up being hospitalized between 14 and 21 days later,” explained Dr. Ghaly. “So today’s cases become hospitalizations two to three weeks out.”
An uptick of cases, new tier restrictions hitting hard for many Californians in affected counties
In San Diego County, the news of more hospitalizations, as well as more closures and reduced services from businesses, hit many in the County hard, as many were just starting to recover from losses earlier in the year.
“Being back in the purple tier, and having hospitals across the County being more filled up, is not going to do us any good,” said San Diego County business owner Warren Hilts. “A lot of stores are back to reduced capacities now, and we can’t have indoor dining. I own two restaurants. If you don’t include delivery and takeout, do you know how many customers you get in outdoor seating just as cold weather and the rainy season begins to set in? Not a lot.”
“Many restaurants are investing in outdoor heaters and making it more like a European outdoor restaurant experience, but that can only do so much. And having more people be sick and start filling up ICUs again? That’s only kicking us while we’re down. It’s hurting a lot of us physically and emotionally, and economically it’s scaring people away from shopping and spending money which everyone desperately needs more of.”
As Dr. Ghaly noted, a rise in the number of new cases and hospitalizations is expected in the next few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, with the CHHS adding on that proper COVID-19 safety precautions should still be made at all times.
“The virus is not over just because we’re tired of it,” added Dr. Ghaly.
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