By David M. Greenwald
It was a grim day across the country on Tuesday. A record 4400 people died of COVID nationally. In California it was little better—53,260 new cases, more than the nation was getting per day in much of August, and 678 deaths, near a record high. But there was limited good news locally—the Sacramento region including Yolo County will return to the purple tier and the stay-at-home is lifted because the ICU capacity is better than 15 percent.
The Yolo County PIO said, “Yolo County is returning to the most restrictive, or purple, tier based on metrics from the State’s Blueprint of a Safer Economy. Yolo County will remain in the purple tier until at least January 26 and won’t be able to move to the substantial, or red, tier until meeting the red tier’s metrics for two consecutive weeks.”
We are far from out of the woods however. Officials, for instance, in Yuba County noted, “Locally, ICU beds in our own hospital are still stressed, so all of us still need to keep doing all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Governor Newsom in making a brief video announcement on Tuesday emphasized, “California remains in its most intensive surge to date. But there are some good things to report. We’re starting to see some stabilization both in ICUs [and] in our positivity rate. We’re also starting to see the rate of growth for hospitalizations beginning to decline.”
That is good news for some local businesses. The return to the purple tier—not good news back in September does mean that local restaurants can start serving outdoor food rather than takeout only.
Gyms and fitness centers can operate in an outdoor setting.
Hair salons and barbershops can resume business.
Grocery stores can return to 50 percent occupancy and retail with 25 percent occupancy.
Restaurants: Takeout, delivery and outdoors only; for outdoor dining those seated at a single table are limited to household members only. Tables must be a minimum of six feet apart.
Schools remain a tricky issue. According to the county, “Any schools that have already been allowed to reopen for in-person or hybrid learning previously may remain open. Schools that have not yet opened will need to receive a waiver to reopen under the purple tier or wait until Yolo County moves back into the red tier. “
Greater Sacramento including Yolo County was placed on the stay-at-home order on December 10 along with most of the state as capacity dipped below 15 percent. But while the capacity issue is good news, the rest of the COVID news, including the slow rollout of vaccines is not.
“There is light at the end of this tunnel,” Governor Newsom said.
While Sacramento emerges, the other regions remain under a stay-at-home—the Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California were at 4.7%, 0% and 0%, respectively.
California has done well at times in holding transmission low, but has catastrophically failed during the early summer and again in the fall.
As California has tamped down on activity in the past, it has reduced the spread.
Mark Ghaly, California’s Health and Human Services secretary, on Tuesday said that stay-at-home orders were helping to tamp down COVID transmission.
“We did see some transmission reductions, and that is exactly the kind of relief our hospital systems needed to get through the week—and we hope it will carry forward a little bit longer,” he said during a briefing.
Though the state still anticipates the “some increases in hospitalizations will come in the middle of the month,” Ghaly said, “we’re just hopeful it’s not as significant as we expected and, certainly, not as significant as it would have been had we not seen these reductions in transmission, in part, because of that regional stay-at-home order.”
Now the question is whether Yolo County and the rest of the region can stay in the purple and avoid future disruptions to business and everyday life.
—David M. Greenwald reporting
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