As LA County advances into the yellow tier, hopes for economic recovery grow.
By Erika Zuniga, Staff Writer
Los Angeles County progressed into the least restrictive yellow tier of California’s four-tier blueprint system on May 4, clearing the way for the nation’s most populous county to unshackle its economy to the widest extent possible.
The yellow tier will allow businesses to operate at higher capacity with certain modifications still in place. Some of the last indoor spaces that had yet to be cleared for reopening — including bars that not serve meals, saunas and steam rooms — will be able to do so. Getting to this point is the culmination of months of progress in driving down the numbers of new COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
During a briefing Monday, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the county is beginning to align with the direction the state is moving. She stresses the importance of continuing to keep a distance of at least six feet from others as well as continued use of masks.
“We’re just going to want to make sure that wherever you’re going, you can always keep distance of at least six feet from others, that everyone is always wearing their masks appropriately with the exception of vaccinated people and a handful of activities and that infection control is still apparent everywhere that people are going to be where they’re intermingling,” Ferrer said. “So we still have to protect our workers. We still have to protect children.”
Ferrer issued a health order pertaining to the wider reopenings that went into effect last Thursday.
A county’s advancement to a lesser restrictive tier is based on the rate of new cases, the number of positive and a health-equity metric applied to ensure that the positive test rate in poorer communities is not significantly higher than the county’s overall figure.
Counties must record two consecutive weeks of qualifying data to advance to a less restrictive tier and remain there for at least three weeks before moving again. California is aiming to scrap the tier framework and fully reopen its economy on June 15, though some safety rules will remain in place. As long as vaccine supply is stable and hospitalizations remain low, the state should remain on track for reopening. In the meantime, however, reaching the yellow tier requires an adjusted daily new case rate of fewer than 2 per 100,000 people and overall test positivity of less than 2 percent with a health-equity positivity below 2.2 percent.
LA County’s test positivity has been within the yellow range for close to a month, but only last week did its adjusted case rate finally fall below the necessary threshold to advance.
With a required 1.9 percent, the rate is barely within the qualifying range with even a slight regression threatening to delay its advancement. However, the county’s adjusted case rate instead fell further to 1.6 on Tuesday, according to state data.
“We’ve done a really decent job holding our own if you look at our case numbers,” Ferrer said. “People are really invested, I think, at this point in seeing our recovery move forward.”