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Inching closer to the Orange Tier. 

Good afternoon. 

Tajha Chappellet-Lanier here, thinking about the pandemic reopening process. A year ago, when we still believed shelter-in-place might be short-lived, it was easy for me to daydream about what I’d do and how I’d act when the pandemic was “over.” 

Now, like many others, I’m bogged down in wondering what “over” really meansWe know now that this isn’t a question of eliminating Covid-19, but rather deciding what level of spread is an acceptable trade-off for renewed economic activity. For me, it’s an uneasy equation.

But no matter how I feel about it, this is the direction we’re moving in: “over” and “open.” When the California Department of Public Health updated its weekly Blueprint for a Safer Economy numbers on Tuesday, Monterey County’s case rate had fallen to 3.8 per 100,000—within range of the even-less-restrictive Orange Tier of reopening, just a week after entering the Red Tier. If our case rate stays at this level, or continues to decline, the county could move into the Orange Tier as soon as April 7, Monterey County Health Officer Edward Moreno told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

What happens at the Orange Tier? Restaurants, currently allowed to operate indoor dining at 25-percent capacity, can go up to 50-percent capacity. Museums and aquariums, movie theaters and places of worship would all make this same increase for indoor visitors. Gyms would go from 10-percent capacity to 25-percent capacity. And here’s a new one—bars, where no food is served, would be allowed to open outdoor seating. There’s more.

This is certainly a quick tier progression for Monterey County, given that we’ve only been in the Red Tier since March 17. If I’ve learned anything from watching the data at a county and state level, though, it’s that infection rates move swiftly in both directions. The Monterey County Health Department announced 23 new cases on Wednesday and 27 new cases today, and says just 27 people in the county are currently hospitalized. I hope we stay on this trajectory—the expansion of vaccine eligibility and distribution is a hopeful sign.

And while the Blueprint status might be changing, guidelines for individual behavior remain so steady you can probably say it with me—wear a mask in public, practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings, get tested if you need it and get vaccinated when you’re eligible.

Stay safe out there.

-Tajha Chappellet-Lanier, Monterey County NOW editor, tajha@mcweekly.com

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