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On Aug. 28, Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” a statewide plan for living with COVID-19 for the long haul. The plan imposes risk-based criteria on tightening and loosening COVID-19 allowable activities and expands the length of time between changes to assess how any movement affects the trajectory of the disease.
Like every aspect of California’s response, data and science are the North Star, and as a result, this new framework makes a number of changes to the state’s previous resilience roadmap, Newsom said.
“This blueprint is statewide, stringent and slow,” Newsom said. “We have made notable progress over recent weeks, but the disease is still too widespread across the state. COVID-19 will be with us for a long time, and we all need to adapt. We need to live differently. And we need to minimize exposure for our health, for our families and for our communities.”
The blueprint builds on lessons learned from the first six months of the disease – and the new scientific understanding that has been collected – to create a new system for regulating movement and COVID-19 transmissions.
It relies on two leading health metrics: number of cases per 100,000 residents and percentage of COVID-19 tests that come back positive. In addition, counties will also be required to show they are targeting resources and making the greatest efforts to prevent and fight COVID in communities and with individuals with the highest risk, and demonstrate improvements in outcomes.
Based on recent data, each county will fall into one of four colored tiers – Purple (Widespread), Red (Substantial), Orange (Moderate) and Yellow (Minimal) – based on how prevalent COVID-19 is in each county and the extent of community spread. That color will indicate how sectors can operate.
For example, in the Purple (Widespread) tier where the disease is widespread, restaurants can only operate outdoors. But once a county has achieved a lower level of disease transmission and moved into the Red (Substantial) tier, restaurants can operate with 25% capacity indoors or 100 patrons, whichever is fewer.
Additionally, Purple (Widespread) is substituted for the previous County Data Monitoring List (which has equivalent criteria to Purple). Schools in the (Purple) Widespread tier aren’t permitted to reopen for in-person instruction unless they receive a waiver from their local health department for TK-6 grades. Schools can reopen for in-person instruction once their county has been in the Red (Substantial) tier for at least two weeks.
Counties must remain in every tier but purple for a minimum of 21 days before being eligible to move into the next tier. Each Tuesday, California will update each county’s data for the previous week and make corresponding changes to tiers. In order to move into a less restrictive tier, a county must meet that tier’s criteria for two straight weeks.
Conversely, counties that fail to meet the metrics for their current tier for two consecutive weeks must move to the next most restrictive tier. The plan also includes an “emergency brake” where the state can intervene more immediately concerning factors like hospitalizations. To learn more, visit covid19.ca.gov.
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