COVID-19 Update - Imperial Valley Press

EL CENTRO — Imperial County has a new public health order.

County Health Officer Dr. Stephen Munday released the new order Monday. It is designed to correspond directly the state of California’s new Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which was unveiled Friday.

The county held a press conference Monday afternoon to explain the new order and what it means to businesses and residents in Imperial County.

The Blueprint for a Safer economy introduces revised criteria for loosening and tightening restrictions on activities, as well as a tiered, color-coded system, which will guide movement from tier to tier.

The tiers assign risk levels of “widespread” (purple), “substantial” (red), “moderate” (orange) and “minimal” (yellow).

Imperial County is in the purple tier because the positive rate is above 8 percent, and there are more than seven new positive cases per day per 100,000 residents. It is not alone as most of the counties in the state are also in the purple tier.

Nevertheless, the new system did allow barbershops and salons to open indoors Monday with restrictions and safety measures in place.

Another significant change under the new system is that non-grocery retail stores may operate indoors in Imperial County while it is in the first tier, but they are limited to 25 percent capacity, while grocery stores have been reduced to a 50 percent capacity.

Public Health Director Janette Angulo urged residents to continue to order food from restaurants online and then pick it up without leaving vehicles. The health order does allow outdoor dining.

Shopping centers and may open at 25 percent capacity, but common areas and food courts must remain closed.

Angulo said when the county moves into the red tier, the capacity for retail would increase to 50 percent.

For that to happen, the county for two consecutive weeks would have to meet the red tier requirements, which is four to seven cases per 100,000 residents and a 5 percent to 8 percent positive rate.

“We need to stabilize and will work on establishing metrics,” she said.

Munday said the county is only allowed to advance one tier at a time, regardless of its level of improvement.

To move from one tier to the next one, the county must meet the new metrics for three weeks.

Dove hunting season, which begins today in Imperial County, is allowed under the new plan because it is an outdoor activity. However, Munday cautioned that hunters should stay among their own families, not mingle with others and follow all other safety measures.

“Even as we begin to advance through the stages of the Blueprint and as we approach the upcoming holiday weekend, I can’t stress how important it is for residents to remember to practice the safety measures that are still in place: avoid gatherings, practice social distancing and continue to wear your face coverings” Munday said.

“Those who test positive for COVID or have had significant exposure to someone who is positive, must continue to observe the requirements for isolation and quarantine,” he added. “If our county is to continue to make positive strides towards recovery, we must all take necessary precautions to avoid spreading infection.”

For more details about the Blueprint for a Safer Economy or for more information about where each California county falls and what activities will be allowable in each county, visit covid19.ca.gov.

Staff Writer Michael Maresh can be reached at mmaresh@ivpressonline.com.

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