After four months in the purple tier, Santa Barbara County moved into the red tier on March 16 for the second time since last November with an adjusted case rate of 7.7 new cases per 100,000 residents and testing positivity rate of 3.3%. Now, restaurants, gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters, museums, zoos and aquariums may reopen in a limited capacity.
In order to move from the purple to the red tier, Santa Barbara County had to meet the following criteria: be in the purple tier for three weeks, meet the required adjusted case rate for two weeks and meet the required testing positivity rate for two weeks, according to Van Do-Reynoso, director of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (SBCPHD).
New guidelines for tier metrics were put forward after California met its health equity goal of vaccinating two million people in underserved regions. Under the new guidelines, a county can move into the red tier with an adjusted case rate between 4 to 10 cases per 100,000 residents, a testing positivity rate between 5 to 8% and a testing positivity rate less than 8.1% in the health equity quartile, according to Do-Reynoso. This was not possible prior to meeting the health equity goal, as the county would need an adjusted case rate of less than seven cases per 100,000.
“In comparing our current week with the previous rating period, we’re seeing that testing positivity decrease by 8% whereas the testing positivity in our health equity metrics state the same,” Do-Reynoso said during the March 16 Board of Supervisors meeting. “We are seeing our adjusted case rate decreasing by 21% from the previous rating period.”
Despite the county’s progress, Do-Reynoso asked county residents to remain vigilant as students return home for spring break and variants spread within the county.
The state’s next goal for vaccine equity is vaccinating four million people in heavily impacted communities, which would again adjust the metrics in Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.