New metric requirements put county in orange tier

EL CENTRO — After the state reached 4 million vaccine doses administered to people living in the vaccine equity quartile the California Department of Public Health announced less restrictive tier metrics that allowed Imperial County to move into the orange tier starting today.

The allowed case rate for the moderate level was changed from a maximum amount of 3.9 new cases daily per 100,000 residents to 5.9 cases.

The county cases rate for the past two weeks has been 5.4 per 100,000 residents.

To reach and stay in the orange tier the case rate must remain between 2 and 5.9 cases.

The seven-day average for positive tests must remain between 2 percent and 4.9 percent. Imperial County is currently at 3.4 percent.

The final requirement, the health equity metric, must be less than 5.3 percent. The county, as of Tuesday afternoon, was at 4.5 percent.

Imperial County Public Health Director Janette Angulo announced at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting that the county was moving into the orange tier.

“The fact that the number of COVID-19 vaccines available and being administered throughout California is increasing is exceptionally good news,” said Imperial County Public Health Officer Stephen Munday. “Getting the vaccine and continuing to follow safety precautions is our quickest path forward.”

Munday said he is extremely proud of those the community who have chosen to get the COVID-19 vaccine and encourages those who have not yet gotten it to enroll to receive it as soon as it becomes available. 

Restaurants, movie theaters and churches are now allowed to open at 50 percent capacity or 200 customers, whichever is fewer.

Beginning today gyms and fitness centers are allowed to increase capacity from 10 percent to 25 percent.

The orange tier also allows bars, distilleries and breweries to open outdoors without also serving food.

Wineries are now allowed to be open indoors at 25 percent capacity or 100 customers, whichever is less.

Retail, which is at 50 percent capacity in the red tier, increased to 100 percent capacity. This includes shopping malls.

Indoor activities, including the reopening of bowling alleys, are allowed at 25 percent.

The orange tier will also allow outdoor gatherings of 100 people or 300 if all the attendees have either been vaccinated or tested negative for COVID-19. Indoor gatherings will be capped at 150 people if those attending have been vaccinated or tested negative for the virus.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that California plans to lift most coronavirus restrictions on businesses and workplaces June 15, with officials saying enough people should be vaccinated by then to allow for life to almost get back to normal operations.

The mask mandate in California would stay in effect, and he added California will reopen more widely in mid-June only if vaccine supply is sufficient and hospitalization rates stay stable and low.

“We can confidently say by June 15 that we can start to open up as business as usual, subject to ongoing mask-wearing and ongoing vigilance,” Newsom said. “So this is a big day.”

At Tuesday’s Imperial County Board of Supervisors meeting, the Imperial County Office of Education gave an update on schools reopening graduation, sports and more.

ICOE Superintendent Todd Finnell told the board he is hoping the county can move into the yellow tier to allow fans into the stands for graduations, while allowing award ceremonies and other events such proms.

He said the plans are for a robust summer that will include bridging opportunities for students.

In sports, the seasons of golf and cross country finished with no problems.

Supervisor Jesus Eduardo Escobar said most student-athletes in the past participated in multiple sports but now have to pick their poison.

“You talk about sports, and you (get) my blood boiling,” he said.

Munday will meet with ICOE to discuss changing the guidance that currently allows students to participate in only one sport for the year.

“This is an ongoing conversation with the state,” Munday said. “We are working very hard to see how we can move forward.”

Indoor sports are still not allowed, though basketball and wrestling could still occur. The volleyball season has concluded.

The supervisors were told that by August, when school begins for the fall, buildings will be open to 100 percent capacity with no distance learning.


The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Staff Writer Michael Maresh can be reached at or 760-337-3440.

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