As COVID-19 cases sharply increase across the country and California, Governor Gavin Newsom and state public health officials announced immediate actions today to slow the spread of the virus. The state is pulling an "emergency brake" in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, resulting in 94.1 percent of California’s population in the most-restrictive, purple tier, including Orange County. According to the Governor, this change is effective Monday, November 16, and industries and businesses are expected to adjust their operations to comply within 24 hours.
In the Purple Tier, the State's most restrictive, many non-essential indoor business operations are closed, including indoor dining, indoor church services, and indoor gyms. Outdoor operations are allowed for many sectors, but bars and breweries (where no food is provided) must close. For more information on what activities are allowed, permissible indoor capacity, and what modifications must be in place, please visit the State's website: covid19.ca.gov.
The growth rate in confirmed COVID-19 cases is faster than in July, which led to a significant peak in cases. This requires a swift public health response and action from all Californians to slow the virus's spread. Immediate action will help protect individuals at higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 and help keep the state’s health care delivery system from becoming overwhelmed.
"We are in the midst of a surge, and time is of the essence. Every day matters and every decision matters” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “Personal decisions are critical, and I am I imploring every Californian to stay home if they can, wear a mask whenever they leave their homes, limit mixing, practice physical distancing and wash their hands.”
Today’s action will remain in effect until the State Public Health Officer determines it is appropriate to make modifications based on public health conditions and data. California will continue to update the Blueprint for a Safer Economy based on the best available public health data and science. For more information about the Blueprint and what Californians can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit covid19.ca.gov.
School Impacts and the Tier Status
The County of Orange moved to the second least restrictive tier — the Red Tier — on September 8, 2020. Under state guidelines, schools are permitted to reopen for in-person instruction once their county has been in the Red Tier for two consecutive weeks. As the state has now moved the County of Orange into the more restrictive Purple Tier, K-12 schools that have NOT reopened for in-person instruction will have to remain online. However, K-12 schools that have fully reopened prior to today for in-person instruction are not required to close. Higher education institutions under the Purple Tier must close indoor lectures and student gatherings. Some courses conducted in certain indoor settings, like labs for essential workers and studio arts, may be open.
What Orange County Residents and Businesses Can Do
There are several steps Orange County residents can do at this time:
1. Get Tested for COVID-19
The OC Health Care Agency officials are urging residents, especially those with any symptoms, to get tested for the virus. COVID-19 testing is now widely available across the county for those who are symptomatic or asymptomatic, with or without insurance, at no cost. Testing takes only a few minutes and results generally come back within two to three days. If you test positive for COVID-19, stay home and let close-contacts know. A close-contact is someone you were within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes within a 24-hour period during the infectious period.
2. Stay Home if You Don’t Feel Well
Consult with a health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, please call the OC Health Care Agency’s Health Referral Line at 1-800-564-8448.
3. Stay Home When Possible
When you leave the house, avoid crowds and stay 6 feet apart from people not in your household.
4. Do Not Gather with More Than 3 (Healthy) Households
Do not mix households; in other words, remain with the same 3 households in all activities.
5. Wear a Face Covering
Wear a face covering when you are around people not in your household, especially when indoors.
6. Wash Your Hands Often
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
7. Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Nose, and Mouth with Unwashed Hands
8. Clean and Disinfect Frequently Touched Surfaces
9. Understand and Comply with the State’s Guideline for Your Business and Events
Orange County residents may search for a business or activity type by visiting covid19.ca.gov and entering "Orange" in the County field, entering the business or activity type, and clicking, “GET LATEST STATUS.”