By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials are preparing for the county to potentially move from the purple tier to red, possibly as soon as March 17, if statewide benchmarks related to COVID-19 cases and vaccinations can be met.
The state announced updates to its Blueprint for a Safer Economy on Friday, March 5, according to Public Health.
“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,” according to a Public Health statement on Monday, March 8. “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.”
After two million doses have been administered in the state to qualifying communities, the threshold to move from the purple tier to red will go from seven cases per 100,000 people to 10 new cases per 100,000 people, according to Public Health. This number of doses is expected to be reached this week.
“LA County’s adjusted case rate dropped from 7.2 new cases per 100,000 people to 5.2 new cases per 100,000 people,” according to a Public Health statement on Tuesday, March 9. “The test positivity rate dropped from 3.5% to 2.5%. Should the cases and test positivity rates remain at or below the red tier metrics next week, the county would move to the red tier on March 17.”
Public Health officials reported they would be working with the Board of Supervisors and other sector partners to “prepare appropriate modifications to the Health Office Order reflecting the county’s move to the red tier.”
Once in the red tier, counties can allow indoor dining to reopen, as well as movie theaters, both with limits in place for the number of people at a time. Indoor gyms, dance and yoga studios, and museums, zoos and aquariums can all allow indoor activities at a limited capacity—though Public Health officials had not yet reported if this would be the case in LA as the Post went to print Tuesday.
A move to the red tier would allow for schools to open for on-site learning for grades seven through 12.
These announcements came as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance for fully vaccinated people, including that they are able to gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people in small groups without masks or practicing physical distancing, as well as a fully vaccinated household visiting an unvaccinated, low-risk household.
“Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks or more after they received the second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks or more after they received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” according to Public Health.
Officials urged fully vaccinated individuals to continue to wear a mask and maintain physical distance while in public.
As the Post went to print Tuesday, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 had reached 1,205,276 across the county when factoring in Long Beach and Pasadena, with 22,099 deaths.
Pacific Palisades had reached 766 confirmed cases and 17 deaths Tuesday, with an additional 141 in Palisades Highlands and one death.
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