COVID-19 · Fresno

Fresno Co. avoids coronavirus downturn, remains in red tier

Fresno County can breathe a sigh of relief – a return to the purple tier is not on the horizon.

The California Department of Public Health released its updated tier assignments for the COVID-19 reopening blueprint, placing Fresno County in the red tier after a week in which it looked as if the county would make a return to the more restrictive purple tier. 

Kings County, meanwhile, joined Fresno County in the red tier on Tuesday.

In order to stay in the red tier, Fresno County had to meet the following metrics: a COVID-19 positivity rate under 8 percent and a new daily case rate per 100,000 people under 7.

Last week, the county had a case rate of 7.2, but Tuesday Fresno County posted a 5.1 percent positivity rate and a 6.5 adjusted case rate. 

According to the state, the county’s case rate is actually 6, but the state adjusted that number up to 6.5 because the number of coronavirus tests Fresno County is conducting is less than the statewide median. 

The state has pulled these metrics from the week ending on Oct. 3. 

Due to the case rate being above seven last week, Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra thought there was a high chance that a return to purple was imminent, which would have been devastating to businesses. 

The purple tier would have closed all restaurants and gyms just two weeks after they reopened. Several business sectors would have had to reduce their operating capacity from 50 percent to 25 percent. 

But instead, Fresno County can begin to look ahead to moving into the orange tier, which will continue to loosen restrictions and bring back a little more normalcy. 

Moving into the orange tier would allow all retail businesses to return to 100 percent capacity, and places of worship and restaurants would be allowed to have 50 percent capacity or 200 people, whichever number is less. 

To move to the orange tier, Fresno County will have to post a positivity rate under 5 percent, have a case rate under 4 for two weeks and be under 5.3 percent for the health equity metric. The health equity metric tracks the positivity rates in disadvantaged neighborhoods – areas that are in the lowest quartile of the Healthy Places Index. 

The state reported that Fresno County has a 7.4 percent health equity metric. 

Vohra did not hold his regularly scheduled media briefing on Tuesday.

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.