WILLITS, 11/16/20 — Earlier today Governor Newsom announced that a large swath of the state was being returned to the “purple tier” due to a recent surge in COVID-19 cases state — and nation — wide. This evening the County of Mendocino confirmed that we will indeed be returning to the purple tier restrictions effective tomorrow, Tuesday Nov. 17, 2020. So far in Mendocino County 1,307 people have tested positive for the disease and 22 people have died of the coronavirus.
Though most will be familiar with the restrictions given the time already spent in the purple tier, it bears repeating that this means an end to indoor dinning, indoor religious services, indoor gyms, and an end to indoor visiting at skilled nursing facilities. Retail stores will once again only be allowed to have 25% percent capacity.
The subject of schools is slightly trickier, and any schools that already opened will be allowed to continue operating opened. However, in Mendocino County it appears that that only includes kindergarten in Potter Valley — all other districts had not yet reopened, or were still deciding what to do when this new edict came down. (There may be some number of private schools or charter schools that we are not aware of which have opened, but we trust that those schools are in close communication with students and parents.)
New cases are increasing across the country at an alarming rate. On Saturday 181,196 new cases were reported in the United States — a new record. In the country as a whole the percentage of tests coming back positive has hit 9.8%, though in California it remains at 4.6%. Though one of the first states to be afflicted, throughout the pandemic California has kept cases, hospitalizations, and deaths lower than the national averages, with generally greater precautions and stricter restrictions.
As is seen clearly in the graph below, Mendocino had managed to significantly reign in its cases per day, until the middle of last week, when things began to spike strongly.
In the past few days, new case totals approaching the worst of the summer months have again begun to appear:
Hospitalizations, isolation, and quarantine have again begun to rise.
During those bad summer months the county saw a large number of people killed by the virus in quick succession. Since then deaths have been more sporadic, as cases went down, and likely as doctors learned better how to treat the disease and the public learned how to better protect the most vulnerable.
Here is our reporting from earlier today, including Newsom’s statements:
Below is the County of Mendocino’s press release with more details:
The State Places Mendocino County Back Into the Purple Tier
There has been an unprecedented increase in COVID-19 cases throughout California, particularly within the last 10 days. Mendocino County has also seen a rise in cases. Within the last seven days, our county’s case rate (average number of new cases per day) has jumped by 69%. Because of this surge, Mendocino County Public Health was alerted by the state that our county has officially re-entered Purple Tier 1, or “widespread” COVID-19 community risk status, effective Tuesday, November 17, 2020.
In line with new state guidelines, our new tier assignment is based on a seven-day average with a four-day lag. As of today, 41 of the 58 counties in California are now in the Purple Tier 1 as a result of the state’s revision.
“We’re disappointed that due to the new criteria developed by the state, our data requires we move back to the Purple Tier,” says County Health Officer Dr. Andy Coren. “This impacts all Mendocino County residents. If your family has not been affected by the virus, it does not mean they never will be. It is when we as individuals let our guard down that COVID-19 has an opportunity to spread. Mendocino County is experiencing a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases, which is being fueled by household spread and continued gatherings. We urge business owners to abide by Public Health Guidelines. This includes limiting facility capacity as required, and prioritizing the health of your patrons. We also urge individuals and families to not engage with indoor gatherings of any size, even if no one reports feeling ill. This virus is deadly, and can spread quietly through asymptomatic carriers.”
In alignment with the state’s Purple Tier 1 category, the following industries must abide by these guidelines in order to slow the spread of COVID-19:
- Restaurants must operate by means of takeout or outdoor dining only, while abiding by social distancing requirements, as well as facial covering requirements when not consuming food.
- Gyms must operate outdoors only, while abiding by social distancing and facial covering requirements.
- Places of worship must operate outdoors only, while abiding by social distancing and facial covering requirements.
- Retail stores are limited to a maximum of 25% capacity, while abiding by social distancing and facial covering requirements.
- Skilled Nursing Facilities may no longer have in-person visitors.
- Schools may remain open for on-campus instruction, if they had already opened on campus instruction while the county was in the Red Tier. Such schools are urged to ask staff to test for COVID-19 regularly. If a school did not re-open on-campus instruction in the Red Tier, their campus must remain closed.
The state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy lays out a clear picture of what the different tiers mean to each business sector. For a complete list of allowable activities under the Purple Tier 1, please visit www.covid19.ca.gov. As a reminder, all businesses must complete a COVID-19 self-certification process prior to opening for the first time at www.mendocinocountybusiness.org.
“Mendocino County staff started preparing a COVID-19 pandemic response months ago, building a strong county response team,” said County CEO Carmel Angelo. “We are here as disaster service workers and will continue to serve the public, 24/7, as long as our COVID-19 pandemic response is needed.”
The state is re-starting the time clocks for all counties, requiring that Mendocino County spend at least 21 days in the Purple Tier 1, and meet Red Tier 2 requirements for two consecutive weeks before advancing to the next less restrictive tier. To help continue the progressive re opening process, the public is urged to wear a mask, practice social distancing and frequent handwashing, stay home when sick and avoid gatherings. The public must follow isolation and quarantine requirements.