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Riverside County at risk of being moved back into Purple Tier

Riverside County is being allowed to remain in the Red Tier for at least a week after local officials requested more time to improve the metrics and avoid moving back to the most restrictive tier. Riverside County officials requested the delay as the county’s metrics showed an increase in case and positivity rates that could push it into the more restrictive Purple Tier.

State officials on Tuesday announced that Riverside County would stay in the Red Tier during the “adjudication process” and see whether the county can reduce its case rate – cases per 100,000 people – and meet the metrics to remain in the Red Tier.

Riverside County officials say the return to the Purple Tier will adversely impact small businesses like restaurants and gyms which were able to provide indoor services after previously being restricted to only outdoor activities in the more restrictive tier.

Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said the adjudication process is to make the case to the state that the county can maintain its current status and still control COVID-19 in the communities.

“Whether or not we stay red or return to purple, we have to get people tested to find cases, and continue to use facial coverings, social distance, and avoid gatherings,” Kaiser said. “If we return to purple, we want to get back to red as quickly as we can. If we stay red, we want to progress. We can’t do either of those things without individuals, businesses, and institutions working together to reduce spread.”

Late last month, Riverside County moved from Purple Tier to Red Tier because it met the criteria for positivity and case rates. Counties are placed within the Red Tier because of their daily case rate (must be lower than seven new cases per 100,000 population) and positivity rate (lower than eight percent). The state adjusts the case rate higher for counties that are not meeting the state’s daily average testing volume, which brought Riverside County’s case rate above seven per 100,000 last week.

“We appreciate the California Department of Public Health for working with Riverside County and granting us this one-week extension in order to make progress on our metrics,” said Riverside County Board Chair and Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez.

“According to Dr. Christopher Thornberg of the UCR School of Business, the hospitality sector including hotels and restaurants and the retail/service sector such as gas stations, clothing stores, and personal care have been the hardest hit as a result of this pandemic. Many people have been laid off, lost their jobs, or have had to close their businesses, especially in Riverside County. I ask that we all do our part and continue to adhere to safety precautions in our homes and while out in public.”

Perez urged residents to wear a mask, social distance, and be careful. “Let’s not go back a tier and prevent it by also taking the time to test, even without symptoms. Together, we can beat the pandemic and get people back to work.”

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