Red tier grows near as LA County COVID case rate decreases

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Data from LA County released Wednesday indicates that it has returned to daily case numbers that are similar levels to those seen before the holiday case surge. This opens the possibility of the county moving up a tier in the state’s reopening plan as early as this weekend. 

The seven-day average number of daily cases has continued to decrease, and as of Feb. 28 is 700. Public Health has identified 1,204,018 positive cases of COVID-19 across L.A. County, with a total of 22,041 deaths.

There are 1,132 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 31% of these people are in the ICU.  Testing results are available for more than 5,900,000 individuals with 19% of people testing positive.  

Last Friday, the state announced updates to their Blueprint for a Safer Economy.  In addition to assessing county case rates, positivity rates and positivity rates in neighborhoods with the lowest scores in the Healthy Places Index, the state is now taking into consideration the number of vaccinations that have been administered in the lowest resourced neighborhoods statewide.  

Unlike the other three metrics, vaccination numbers will be calculated statewide and used to change the case rate thresholds for counties to move from one tier to another.

Once 2,000,000 vaccine doses have been administered in the state to the communities with the lowest score in the Healthy Places Index, the threshold to move from the purple tier to the red tier will go from 7 new cases per 100,000 people to 10 new cases per 100,000 people.  

To move to the orange tier, the threshold will remain at 4 cases per 100,000 people, and to move to the yellow tier, the threshold will remain at one.

Once 4,000,000 vaccine doses have been administered in the state to the communities with the lowest score in the Healthy Places Index, the threshold to move from the purple tier to the red tier will remain at 10 per 100,000 people, but the threshold will change for moving to the orange tier, from four new cases per 100,0000 residents to six cases per 100,000 people, and to move to the yellow tier, the threshold will change from one new case per 100,000 residents to two cases per 100,000 people.

Last week, the case rate in L.A. County was below 10 new cases per 100,000 residents. If this week’s adjusted case rate remains below 10 new cases per 100,000 people, it is expected that within 48 hours of the state announcing the vaccine trigger has been met, Los Angeles County, along with other counties with qualifying case rates, would move into the red tier.  

In the red tier, one of the most notable changes would be the permittance of indoor dining to a maximum of 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is smaller.

Other changes include:

  • Movie theaters are also open to a maximum of 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
  • Indoor gatherings strongly discouraged, but now allowed with modifications (max three households)
  • Aquariums, museums, zoos can now open their indoor operations to a maximum of 25% capacity 
  • Gyms, fitness centers, and climbing walls can reopen for indoor activities at 10% capacity. Hotels can also reopen their fitness centers with the same 10% capacity limit.
  • Retail, shopping centers, can expand their max capacity indoors to 50%. Food courts are also permitted to be reopened.
  • Starting April 1, outdoor sporting events and outdoor live concerts will be permitted with significant capacity and infection control modifications.  

For counties in the purple tier, capacity at these outdoor events will be limited to 100 people or less, reservations will be required, and concessions will not be allowed. Only people who live in the region where the event is taking place will be permitted to attend.  

Once in the red tier, these outdoor events can open at 20% capacity, limited to in-state visitors only; concessions will be allowed only while seated.  As counties move into less restrictive tiers, the allowed capacity will increase.

Public Health is also preparing for schools to be permitted, in the red tier, to open for on-site learning for grades 7 through 12. 

As schools prepare for these students, they must have an updated State COVID-19 Safety Plan (CSP), including the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Program and the CDPH COVID-19 School Guidance Checklist posted to the school or district website no less than 5 days before their planned opening date.  

Schools will also have to file an updated L.A. County Reopening Survey and an updated L.A. County Reopening Protocol for K through 12 Schools at least 5 days before the proposed reopening date for grades 7 through 12.