Monday, June 14, 2021

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County inching up on state’s reopening blueprint

Measuring COVID-19 cases in small populations the way the virus is measured in counties like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento, may seem unfair and misleading to the public, but Colusa County is inching toward reopening.

Under the state’s new four-tiered system, Colusa County on Tuesday moved from the purple or “widespread” tier into the less restrictive red “substantial” tier on the state’s blueprint for reopening.

But that means Colusa County must maintain less than 35 new positive cases of COVID-19 over a 7-day period for the next two weeks before schools can reopen.

Bars and restaurants may open now in the red tier at 25 percent capacity, officials said.

“Our efforts are paying off,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Denise Carter. “We just need to stay doing what we are doing.”

Until Tuesday, there were only eight other counties in the red tier, including neighboring Lake, Butte and Yuba counties, and eight counties in the orange “moderate” tier, mostly counties along the Nevada border. There are seven Northern California counties in the yellow “minimal” tier. Most California counties are in the purple tier, including Tehama, which had a surge on Friday of 121 new positive cases traced to their public schools, along with Glenn and Sutter, which are considered to have widespread coronavirus activity.

County officials said in order for Colusa County to move into less restrictive tiers, the public should remain diligent in keeping six feet of distance with people outside the household, wearing a face covering in public, and washing hands frequently to slow the spread of the virus.

The most important change in behavior is for people to stay home when they are sick, said Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Kelly.

Colusa County remains under local and state health orders, with a new possible threat by Gov. Gavin Newsom to withhold state funds to counties for non-compliance.

Colusa County Administrative Officer Wendy Tyler said that while the governor’s threat to withhold federal CARES Act funds to noncompliant counties did not bear fruit, the governor could withhold state realignment funds for noncompliance, which for Colusa County equals about $800,000.

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