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SLO, Ventura counties avoid moving back in state’s reopening plan for now

VENTURA, Calif. - The counties of Ventura and San Luis Obispo will remain in the 'Red Tier' of the state's reopening plan for another week, despite growing case positivity rate and an increase in new cases.

Both counties are currently in the "Substantial" tier, but new metrics show the counties are failing to meet the state's criteria to remain in that tier. Each county will have one week to right the ship and avoid a major setback.

The issue for both counties is case rate.

San Luis Obispo County currently has an adjusted positivity rate of 7.2 new cases per 100,000. To remain in its current tier, San Luis Obispo County needs to drop below 7 cases per 100,000. Recently, San Luis Obispo County public health officials said the rising number of cases was "concerning" and attributed a large portion of the new cases to Cal Poly students who are living off campus.

Ventura County is finding itself in a similar spot. The county is also seeing recent spikes in cases and currently has an identical adjusted case rate as San Luis Obispo County.

If the counties end up dropping back to the 'Purple (Widespread) Tier,' the biggest impact would be felt in the education sector. Schools would not have to close for in-person instruction, but additional requirements, including increased testing for staff, would need to be put into place. Industries like gyms and restaurants will also be forced to cease any indoor operations if the county drops down to the 'Purple Tier.'

It's not all bad news for the counties. Both San Luis Obispo County and Ventura County have found success in other aspects of the state's reopening criteria. Both counties are exceeding requirements for positivity rate and health equity quartile, meaning the counties could very easily be moving forward into the state's 'Orange Tier,' if not for the spike in case rate. The discrepancy between the metrics underscores the slim margin for error laid out by the state.

Residents of each county, as well as across the state, are encouraged to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19. Recommended steps to take that could help counties progress through the state's reopening plan include wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing, avoiding large gatherings and staying home whenever possible.

The state adjusts each county's tier every Tuesday. Each county will have to improve case rates or, this time next week, be forced to take a step backward in the quest to return to normality.

Santa Barbara County has remained in the state's 'Red Tier' and is not currently at risk of dropping back to 'Purple,' according to data released by the state Tuesday.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Travis Schlepp

Travis Schlepp is the Digital Content Director for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Travis, click here.


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