How soon can Siskiyou County move to less restrictive orange tier?

Jessica Skropanic
Redding Record Searchlight
Here is where California's 58 counties stand as of Tuesday (March 30, 2021) in the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Each colored tier represents a different level of COVID-19 outbreak. Purple represents counties with the most widespread levels of outbreak and yellow the least.

Despite drops in case numbers and positivity rates over the past week, Siskiyou County will remain in the red tier of California's reopening plan for at least another week. 

State public health officials announced new tier assignments on Tuesday. Decisions were based on each county's current case totals, positivity rates and other metrics.

Siskiyou County's average number of new cases per day, per 100,000 people, equaled 3.9 — an orange-tier level, and just below the 4-10 average daily case range required to stay in the red tier. The latter represents substantial coronavirus outbreak.

The seven-day positivity rate — the percentage of COVID-19 tests that came back positive over the past week — was 2.4%. That percentage is also indicative of the orange tier (2-4.9%).

So why is Siskiyou County still in the red tier?

Red tier counties must have metrics that remain at orange-tier levels or lower for at least two weeks to move into the orange tier, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Siskiyou County has tracked orange-level metrics for one week thus far, according to the CDPH. 

If numbers remain where they are for another week — or drop further, then based on criteria provided by the state, Siskiyou County could move into the orange tier. The soonest that could happen would be April 6.

Both sets of numbers must remain in orange-tier range or lower for Siskiyou to be considered for a tier shift. When the metrics straddle two or more tiers, a county is subject to the most restrictive ranking, according to Shasta County Public Health.

Siskiyou County moved from the purple tier to the red tier on March 16, according to the California Department of Public Health archives. As of March 22, it had spent two weeks in the red tier.

Siskiyou County Public Health offices were closed on Wednesday, and calls and emails to public health representatives were not answered.

Can we skip orange and advance to yellow tier?

Counties aren't allowed to skip tiers, according to the state public health website, so even if all metrics dropped to yellow-tier levels, the county would need to spend two weeks in the orange tier before it would be able to move to yellow. 

Tiers in the California's Blueprint for a Safer Economy, March 30, 2021: This graphic describes measures that each county must meet - based on case numbers, testing and health equity - to advance into the next tier. A county may have more restrictions than those listed by the state.

What do we do to get out of the red?

The solution is to remain diligent with pandemic protocols, North State public health officials said:

  • Get vaccinated when it’s your turn.
  • Wear a mask correctly in public.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Maintain good physical distancing practices.

Where is Siskiyou County compared to the rest of California?

Here is where California's 58 counties stand, according to a state public health report issued Tuesday:

  • Three counties in the purple tier: Inyo, Merced and San Joaquin.
  • 36 counties in the red tier. These include Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama and Glenn.
  • 17 counties in the orange tier. These include Lassen, Modoc, Trinity, Plumas and Butte.
  • Two counties in the yellow tier: Alpine and Sierra.

State public health workers usually assess each county's case numbers and positivity rates on Monday, then update tier assignments on Tuesday. 

Remind me: What does each tier mean?

The four tiers in California's Blueprint for a Safer Economy represent different levels of COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Purple tier: Widespread outbreak with most non-essential indoor business operations closed.
  • Red tier: Substantial outbreak with some non-essential indoor business operations closed.
  • Orange tier: Moderate outbreak with some indoor business operations open, with modifications.
  • Yellow tier: Minimal outbreak with most indoor business operations open, with modifications.

For more information, visit the state's COVID-19 website at https://bit.ly/2PoO2nf.

Jessica Skropanic is a features reporter for the Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. She covers science, arts, social issues and entertainment stories. Follow her on Twitter @RS_JSkropanic and on Facebook. Join Jessica in the Get Out! Nor Cal recreation Facebook group. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today. Thank you.