Right after Monterey County moved out of the Purple Tier and into the less restrictive Red Tier, the state posted Covid-19 case numbers on March 23 that had the county in the even less restrictive Orange Tier territory. If the county could hold those numbers down through April 6, it would be considered officially in the Orange Tier on April 7.
Under the Orange Tier bars could open outdoors, indoor seating at restaurants would go up from 25 percent to 50 percent and capacity at other businesses and places like the Monterey Bay Aquarium would also rise.
But case numbers went up this week, and the Orange Tier remains out of the county's reach. On Tuesday, March 30, the state posted new numbers showing the county went up from 3.8 new cases per day per 100,000 residents to 4.4 cases, out of Orange Tier territory and in Red (which is 4-10 new cases per day per 100,000 people).
Since a county's data points must remain in a less restrictive tier for two weeks before state health officials sign off on the change, that means Monterey County has to get its numbers back to Orange Tier levels—that's 1-3.9 news cases per week per 100,000 people—for another two-week period. If we get there April 6 and stay there April 13, the change could happen as soon as April 14.
That might be an optimistic goal based on last summer, when case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths began rising after each holiday, times that people traditionally travel and gather. With Easter this Sunday, plus increased travel due to lessening of restrictions statewide and across the country, there's more opportunitity for the Covid virus to spread.
Officials are urging people to keep gatherings small, socially distanced, outdoors and with masks on.
The county is still meeting other thresholds for the Orange Tier: Its overall test positivity rate is 2.1 percent and its test positivity rate in the lowest quartile of the Healthy Places Index is 3.4. Both those numbers are in the range required for the Orange Tier.