California introduces new system for reopening

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Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new reopening plan for California on Aug. 28 after COVID-19 cases continued to rise during the first reopening attempt in June.

The new plan introduced a four-tier, color-coded framework for counties to follow based upon the case rate and the number of positive COVID-19 tests. 

The tiers indicate each county’s COVID-19 status. Purple indicates widespread infection, red indicates substantial infection, orange indicates moderate infection and yellow indicates minimal infection in the area.

While the majority of California remains within the purple tier, with counties having more than seven daily new cases per 100,000 people and more than 8% positive tests, some counties have entered the red tier, which allows some indoor, non-essential businesses to open.

To move from one tier to the next, both the number of cases and the positivity rate in a county must decrease to fit the next tier’s guidelines. The county also has to display COVID-19 case rates that do not increase for 21 days.

However, if cases rise for 14 consecutive days, the county will have to move back a tier. The plan has received mixed reactions, with some expressing that it reopens the state too quickly while others believe it is too slow.

Dr. Marshare Penny, professor of public health, said that if states like California reopen prematurely, there could be consequences.

“When your rates are high and you try to move back to business as usual, you run the risk of your rates going even higher,” Penny said. “You ask people to start engaging in behaviors that they are used to engaging in, so now they are exposing more people.”

Carmen Gonzalez, senior liberal studies major, lost her job due to closures and said that the new plan does not work for people in the same situation.

“People lost their jobs and continue to be unemployed,” Gonzalez said. “We need a plan that helps businesses and counties open up so we can go back to work.”

To prevent another wave that would cause closures again, Penny said that even with the absence of a vaccination, the state and its residents can help.

“There are non-pharmaceutical interventions that work,” Penny said. “Those interventions include social distancing, mask-wearing and handwashing.”

Vanessa Avila, sophomore criminal justice major, said students should follow guidelines to stay safe.

“I urge students to wear their masks, bring their hand sanitizer and continually wash their hands,” Avila said.

Riverside County resides in the purple tier, meaning many non-essential businesses remain closed. However, there are some places that are open during the pandemic, including drive-in theaters, restaurants with outdoor dining and some shopping areas.

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