Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino counties gets go-ahead for further reopening in orange tier

After being held back a week, Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties have been given the green light to advance from the red tier (“substantial” risk of infections) to the orange tier (“moderate”) in California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, effective at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

Napa County graduated to the orange tier because the criteria between tiers was loosened now that the state has hit its benchmark of 4 million vaccination doses administered to disadvantaged communities, according to Dr. Karen Relucio, the county’s public health officer.

“While moving into the orange tier is great news, it’s incumbent on all of us to maintain the protective measures that allowed us to get to this point,” she said.

Sonoma and Mendocino counties also will graduate from red to orange this week. Solano County was expected to slip back this week from the red tier to the purple tier, the state’s most-restrictive status, but that won’t happen under the loosened qualifications between tiers. Marin County remains in the orange tier and Lake County is staying in the red tier, according to state officials.

The question now is whether Napa County can maintain its improved metrics — or if it’s on a slippery slope.

“That remains to be seen,” Relucio said. “Our current adjusted case rate metrics are in red (6.8) and if our metrics are in red for the March 28 to April 3 period, we may revert to red on April 14.”

The county had a test positivity rate of 2.1% and a health-equity rate of 2.2%.

In order to advance to the orange tier, a county’s new daily COVID-19 cases must fall between 2 and 5.9 per 100,000 residents for two consecutive weeks. The test positivity rate must land between 2% and 4.9%, and the health-equity test positivity rate is required to be less than 5.3%.

Napa County Board of Supervisors Chair Alfredo Pedroza said he remains optimistic.

“This is welcome news and I have confidence that our community will continue to take the necessary steps to keep us on the path forward,” Pedroza said in a statement. “The state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy was designed to help minimize the impact on our hospitals and I believe it has done just that. Now we need to continue addressing the impact this pandemic has had on our economy.”

Retail establishments and indoor malls in the orange tier can fully reopen and food courts can open at 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is lower. Gyms and fitness studios can operate indoors at 10% capacity under the red tier, and at 25% in orange.

Counties in the orange tier also can begin to reopen outdoor venues for sports and live performances, with capacity limited at 20%. Reservations and assigned seating will be required, and only people living within 120 miles of the region can attend an event. Maximum capacity expands to 33%.

Contra Costa County is the only other county in the Bay Area moving this week from red to orange, according to the state.

This story has been updated with Napa County’s metrics. Please check back for further updates.

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