California to lower threshold for ‘red’ reopening tier

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California will make it easier for counties to move out of the most restrictive “purple” tier on the state’s reopening tier system by lowering the threshold to the second most-restrictive “red” tier.

The new standard relaxes the adjusted case rate to 10 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people from seven new cases per 100,000 people.

The change will go into effect once the state is able to administer at least 2 million doses to the lowest income zip codes according to the state’s Healthy Places Index, state public health officials announced at a news conference Thursday.

As of this week, 1.6 million doses had been administered in those zip codes. California Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly said he expects to hit 2 million doses within the coming weeks.

Only 16 counties were in the red, or “substantial” tier the week of March 1; the majority of the state remained in the purple tier, with only two counties in the orange “moderate” tier.

Schools can offer in-person instruction after remaining out of the purple tier for 14 days. Schools in counties in the purple tier may offer in-person instruction to kindergarten and elementary students as long as the “average adjusted case rate” is below 25 cases per 100,000 population per day in that county, and they file a Covid Safety Plan.

Under the agreement struck by Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislature this week, districts must then reopen all elementary grades and at least one grade in middle school or high school once Covid infection levels in their county decline to the red tier in order to receive extra funding for reopening.

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