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What California’s new color-coded reopening plan means

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Reopening in California is now based on a 4 tier color-coded system. 

The state’s new “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” plan ranks each California county using a colored tier system based on the rate of community spread of coronavirus. Counties are categorized as purple (widespread transmission), red (substantial), orange (moderate), and yellow (minimal).

Most counties in the state are in the purple now. Moving up the ladder is based on two factors gauged over a three week period, the number of new cases per day, and the positivity rate.

“If your percent positivity is more than 8%, it’s a sign you need to move back into purple. Or if you have more than 7 cases per 100,000, it’s a sign you need to move back to that most restrictive category,” said Marin County health officer Dr. Matt Willis.

Dr. Willis believes the new framework is a step in the right direction.

“Instead of on-off you will have a more gradient process. And that will protect some of our business owners from a jerky opening and closing experience,” Dr. Willis added.

Counties that do more testing, like San Francisco, can have the rating adjusted for the better. Under this new system, activities that were not allowed to reopen before can now be reopened.

“We are able to resume indoor hair salons. That’s an improvement. We can also reopen the mall with 25% capacity, so that’s an improvement,” said Solano County health officer Dr. Dela Matyas.

However, Solano County’s health officer also says that moving from tier to tier will take more time, restricting a full reopening. He fears that still penalizes those not causing a surge in cases.

These business sectors are not where we are having illnesses. Our illnesses are occurring when people get together with family and friends. Nothing has changed there though. We are still punishing business not responsible for disease transmission,”  Dr. Matyas said.

Marin County health officials say they are expecting to move from the purple to the red zone as early as next week.

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