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County moves back to ‘widespread’ risk level

Confirmed cases now at 1,620 in the county

San Benito County Public Health officials are reporting that the county is gearing up for a detour on the road to a safer economy as the number of new daily cases of Covid-19 continues to rise at a rapid pace.

County interim Public Health Officer Dr. David Ghilarducci announced on Nov. 16 that San Benito is one of 28 counties throughout California to move back into the most restrictive purple tier, or “widespread” risk level. 

Business owners need to have new restrictions in place no later than Nov. 17, according to Ghilarducci. The setback is a big blow to any progress they made to move into the next level of the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

New restrictions under the purple tier include indoor dining and indoor gatherings are prohibited, and tighter capacity limits in place for retail and other commercial activities, until the number of cases in the county start to decline. Indoor gyms and fitness centers will be closed under the purple tier as well.

Nail and hair salons can remain open indoors, but with strict guidelines. Movie theaters and places of worship can operate outdoors with modifications. Other restrictions include 25-percent capacity limits for retail and most other indoor businesses. 

Schools that have reopened for in-person instruction while the county was in the red tier, or “substantial” risk level, can remain open while in the “purple tier.” If the county is in the purple tier on the day a school plans to reopen for in-person instruction, the school must wait until it is eligible again, according to Ghilarducci.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Nov. 16 that dozens of counties in California are in the purple tier starting on Nov. 17. The number of statewide Covid-19 cases has doubled in the last 10 days and San Benito County is now one of 41 California counties assigned to the purple tier.

The county, according to state data, had a case rate of 15.8 daily new cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate of 6.3 percent for the week ending Nov. 10. The “widespread” risk level factors include more than seven daily new cases per 100,000 residents, and a positivity rate of more than 8 percent. 

The new numbers are a huge jump from the previous data that showed 6.2 daily new cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate of 3.1 percent for the week ending Oct. 31.

At a minimum, counties must remain in a tier for at least three weeks before moving forward from the purple “widespread” tier back to to the red “substantial” tier after meeting the criteria of the less restrictive level for 14 consecutive days. Data is reviewed weekly and tiers are updated on Tuesdays.

As of Nov. 16, county officials have reported 15 deaths and 1,620 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the county. That’s an increase of 95 cases reported since last week. Confirmed cases include patients who have since recovered and those who are deceased. 

The county’s Covid-19 dashboard shows that there are currently 88 active cases with seven new cases as of Nov. 16. There have been 18,019 patients tested for the novel coronavirus locally. Of these, 16,376 have tested negative and 1,517 patients have recovered.

The newsletter also shows that of the 1,620 positive cases of Covid-19, 56 patients are in the 0-4 age group; 404 are in the 5-24 age group; 707 are in the 25-49; 315 patients are in the 50-64 age group; and 137 are age 64 or older.