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Equity means the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas Valley do not get separate tracks for reopening.

Good afternoon, this is staff writer Asaf Shalev. 

Some parts of Monterey County, like Pebble Beach and Big Sur, have seen only a handful of Covid-19 cases, while others, in which essential workers, Latinos and the poor tend to live, are seeing some of the highest transmission rates in the state. These communities are also experiencing higher than average hospitalizations and fatalities. 

Under new state rules, the status of the hardest-hit areas will determine whether Monterey County will be allowed to move out of the so-called Purple Tier and further reopen its economy. 

Released last week, the state’s Health Equity Metric requires that the gap in infection rates come down. Monterey County and others like it will have to invest more heavily in testing, contact tracing, outreach and make sure that all affected patients have a way to quarantine.

“Our entire state has come together to redouble our efforts to reduce the devastating toll Covid-19 has had on our Latino, Black and Pacific Islander communities,” Acting State Public Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan said in a statement. “This isn’t just a matter of higher cases in these communities—it is an issue of life and death that is hurting all Californians. An all-community, cross-sector approach to work together to slow the transmission of Covid in all populations will help ensure we reopen our economy safely, protect our essential workers, and support our local partners.”

County Health Officer Ed Moreno briefed the Board of Supervisors about the new rules today, Oct. 6, presenting a map of where infection rates are too high. These areas included much of Marina and Salinas as well as Gonzales, Greenfield, King City and San Lucas. 

The equity requirements dash the desire of some who want the Monterey Peninsula, where case numbers are relatively low, to get advance permission to reopen restaurants and other tourism-oriented businesses. 

We’re in this as a county as a whole. 

-Asaf Shalev, staff writer,

Asaf Shalev is a staff writer at the Monterey County Weekly. He covers the environment, agriculture and K-12 education, as well as Seaside, Marina, Sand City, Big Sur and Carmel Valley.

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