California Counties at Risk of Regressing As COVID-19 Surges

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A sudden surge of coronavirus cases in California are forcing small businesses in some counties to regress back into restrictive pandemic protocols amid attempts to reopen the economy, Governor Gavin Newsom said.

During a news conference in Sacramento County, the official said that he expected some regions to be going backward with reopenings. Newsom added the state would provide more information on Tuesday. However, he noted that some counties, including Shasta, Mono, Alpine, and Kings, would be placed under stricter guidelines.

California officials use the tier system to allow counties with a lower number of COVID-19 cases to begin reopening their economies. Areas that recorded higher infection rates could be forced to reimplement restrictions such as closing down some establishments while limiting certain types of businesses.

The situations came amid a time when the United States recorded 10 million coronavirus infections. John Hopkins University data showed that daily cases spiked in the last two weeks by more than 60%. There are currently 237,000 reported deaths in America, while daily fatalities have grown by 18% over the last two weeks.

On the other hand, despite seeing an increase in coronavirus cases, the state of California has managed to slow infection rates compared to the rest of the nation. The region’s seven-day average in the area jumped from 4,471 to 5,899 last week. Residents who tested for the virus and were found positive rose from 2.9% to 3.7% in the last two weeks., the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Officials have placed 11 California Counties back to more restrictive guidelines. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said they expect that if the rates continue to grow, nearly half of the state could be placed back to rigid tiers.

Ghaly said the increased infection rates and daily cases are an early warning sign of potentially catastrophic events. The medical professional noted that more sick people would fill up more spaces in the region’s already crowded hospitals.

The doctor said about 12% of recorded cases would most likely end up in the hospital after two weeks. Ghaly noted that the new infections they report now would be hospitalized two or three weeks later.

The medical professional also expressed his concern that the rise of COVID-19 cases comes just before the holiday season. Families would be inclined to visit relatives against public health guidance. He advised that the pandemic is not over when citizens have grown tired of it, ABC30 reported.

California uses a color-coding tier to signify the level of reopening regions are allowed to operate in, which go purple, red, orange, and least is yellow. Three of the state’s counties have been placed in the purple tier, making about a quarter of California counties enter the most restrictive coronavirus protocols. 

The two factors considered in tiering counties are the average daily number of new coronavirus cases in relation to every 100,000 residents and the positivity rate of infections in tested individuals.

Counties that maintain their metrics of a lower-tier for two straight weeks are at risk of regressing back down. The health officer of Sacramento County, Dr. Olivia Kasirye, said her region would have to have lower daily cases to return to red Tier 2. She urged citizens to be aware of the virus and follow effective safety guidelines.

Officials said they designed the tiering system to be deliberative so they could observe and assess the situation. The observation allows them to make prompt decisions about whether to allow reopenings or impose stricter protocols.

Ghaly acknowledged that the state was experiencing a higher number of cases to its previous lows. Despite some areas seeing a spike in infections, the majority of the counties have not overtaken the highest they have seen, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.