UPDATE, 12:35 p.m.: The Humboldt County Joint Information Center has released a statement on what this means for the county. It has been appended below.
In an address currently still underway at the time of this writing, Governor Gavin Newsom has announced that amid a statewide surge in COVID-19 cases, several counties — including Humboldt — will move immediately into more restrictive COVID tiers.
Humboldt County has jumped up two spots from the least restrictive, or “yellow,” tier into the second-highest (“red”) tier, which indicates “substantial” spread of the virus.
The new designation will require closure or modification of several local business sectors. Perhaps most notably, bars, breweries and wineries must close. Restaurants must move back to operating at only 25 percent capacity. (See full list of regulations here.)
Early in his address, which began at noon, Newsom announced several key changes to the “tier” system, which are one implementation of the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.”
For one, counties are now expected to institute new restrictions following a change in their tier status within 24 hours, rather than 72 hours as was previously the case. Counties will receive new tier assignments twice a week, rather than once.
California is currently averaging more than 8,000 new cases a day over the last week, according to Newsom this afternoon, and a 4.6 percent positivity rate for all tests.
As in the rest of the state and the nation, COVID cases have spiked in Humboldt County over the past couple of weeks.
From the Humboldt County Joint Information Center:
The State of California today moved a number of counties into more restrictive tiers in response to the fastest increase in cases and hospitalizations seen since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Humboldt County has been reassigned to the “red” or substantial tier.
The state will require various business sectors to reduce capacity or modify operations, while still following COVID-19 safety measures, including facial covering requirements, physical distancing and sanitation procedures. These requirements are expected to take effect within the next 24 hours.
This move by the state reflects where the county’s data is today, with a case rate of 4.8 and a positivity rate of 2.0%. Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich said at the current pace, there is concern that the county will move into the more restrictive purple tier soon. “Since the state first implemented the Blueprint framework, they’ve signaled that they could move faster if conditions warranted. Our recent data shows why that makes sense because this virus is moving faster than we have ever seen, and rapid response can help to slow the upward trajectory.”
“We need to reduce interactions between people who don’t already live together, and we need to do it now. Travel to visit family and friends as well as bringing out-of-town guests into our homes is driving about half of our cases,” Dr. Frankovich said, adding that gatherings occurring indoors between multiple households is contributing “enormously” to case counts.
Some of the state’s requirements under the red tier include:
- Bars, Breweries and Distilleries – Closed.
- Wineries – Open outdoors only.
- Family Entertainment Centers – Open outdoors only.
- Retail – Open indoors at maximum 50% capacity.
- Shopping Centers, Malls, Swap Meets - Open indoors at maximum 50% capacity; Close common areas; Reduce food court capacity to 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
- Museums, Zoos and Aquariums – Open indoors at maximum 25% capacity.
- Places of Worship – Open indoors at maximum 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
- Movie Theaters - Open indoors at maximum 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
- Hotels and Lodging – Close indoor pools, hot tubs and spa facilities; Fitness centers reduced to maximum 10% capacity.
- Gyms and Fitness Centers - Open indoors at maximum 10% capacity; Close indoor pools, saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs.
- Restaurants - Open indoors at maximum 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
“We simply need to stop traveling and stop gathering, especially indoors. It isn’t safe, and it is impacting our schools and our business communities,” Dr. Frankovich said. “The upcoming holidays need to be single household celebrations if we want to get through this pandemic with fewer hospitalizations and fewer lives lost.”
For the most recent COVID-19 information, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov. Local information is available at humboldtgov.org or during business hours by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 707-441-5000.