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Newsom Axes Watch List For New 4-tier Reopening Plan

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Sacramento, CA – California will switch from the “watch list” system to a new color-coded system based on a county’s number of cases and the percentage of positive tests.

On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new process for reopening businesses beginning Monday, August 31st that is slower and more gradual than what the state implemented earlier this summer. The new process will put more power with the state instead of the counties.

Newsom insisted, “We’re going to be more stubborn this time and have a mandatory wait time between moves. We didn’t do that last time.”

The new rules create a four-tier, color-coded system that counties will move through depending on their status related to a county’s risk level, new cases, and positive test. The color-coded system is below:

California's new 4-tier COVID-19 county status system
California’s new 4-tier COVID-19 county status system

Tuolumne County’s metrics are 1.6 new COVID-19 positive cases per 100K and 1.4% positivity rate putting it in the yellow or “Minimal” status. Calaveras County is in the Red “Substantial” status with 4.8 new COVID-19 positive cases per 100K and a 3.2% positivity rate.

A big difference from the old watch list is how quickly counties will be allowed to move on and off using the color-coded system. The aforementioned metrics will have to be meet for three weeks before counties can move to another tier and reopen certain businesses. If those metrics worsen for two consecutive weeks, the county will move back to a more restrictive tier. The state is hoping this results in less back and forth for businesses that are allowed to reopen, then forced to close back up.

Newsom did not indicate which businesses will be included in which color tier or what the reopening will look like. The new rules come nearly two months after the governor shut down bars, indoor restaurant dining and other businesses following a surge in cases. Newsom says this time the state is “making sure that we really hold strongly to these buffers in terms of criteria and data and holding that criteria and data in line for an extended period of time.”

To date, 38 out of the 58 counties in the state are classified as purple, nine are red, eight are orange and three are yellow. Schools in counties that are in the “purple” category will not be allowed to open. Click here to find out the tiers for other Mother Lode and surrounding counties.