Los Angeles, Orange Counties Very Close To Less Restrictive Covid-19 Reopening Tier

Los Angeles could be next.

On Tuesday, seven additional California counties were confirmed to be moving into the red tier of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Covid-19 reopening plan. Those counties had a total population — in 2019 — of a little over 1.5 million people, the most populous being San Francisco. The other six are El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara and Napa.

Most of those counties are quite small, population-wise. But their larger siblings may be joining them soon.

Los Angeles and Orange Counties — the state’s largest and third largest by population — are inching closer to the red tier. Last week, LA’s adjusted case rate per hundred thousand was about 12. This week, that number fell to 7.2. Once it’s under 7, the county will very likely qualify for the red tier. Orange county’s adjusted case rate announced Tuesday was 7.6 per 100,000.

That means Los Angeles and Orange Counties may edge below the threshold next week, but there’s a catch. They must remain there for another two consecutive weeks before the purple-level restrictions will be lifted.

With 10 million and 3 million residents respectively, LA and Orange Counties, when added to the other areas that have already progressed, would account for nearly half the state’s population. That would be good news for businesses like movie theaters.

Movement into the red tier means that theaters can reopen for indoor operations at 25% capacity or a total of 100 people, whichever is fewer. Restaurants can reopen indoors subject to the same restrictions. Retail stores, shopping centers, zoos and museums can operate at 50% capacity. Hotels can reopen with modifications. Gyms can reopen indoors at very limited capacity. Amusement parks are to remain closed until counties reach the least stringent, or yellow, tier.

Of course, there are two other metrics that also be met for a county to proceed, but LA and the OC already more than meet those. Los Angeles County’s testing positivity rate is 3.5% and the equity quartile is 5.1%, both good enough to actually qualify the county for the even less-restrictive “orange” tier of the four-level state blueprint. Orange County’s numbers are very similar. To advance to the orange tier, the county’s new case rate would have to drop to between 1 and 3.9 per 100,000 residents.

According to state data released Tuesday, there are another 11 of the state’s 58 counties poised to move to less restrictive tiers the week after next. They are Alameda, Alpine, Butte, Calaveras, Imperial, Mariposa, Mono, Placer, Plumas, Santa Crux, Solano and Tuolumne.

Meanwhile, Newsom called Texas’s lifting of its mask mandate on Tuesday “absolutely reckless.”

City News Service contributed to this report.

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