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10 California counties see restrictions eased, risks remain

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ten California counties were cleared to ease coronavirus restrictions Tuesday, including some in the Central Valley that saw major case spikes over the summer, but the state’s top health official warned that upcoming Halloween celebrations pose a risk for renewed spread.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state health secretary, said no counties moved backwards in California’s color-coded, four-tiered system for reopening, but Riverside was on the verge of reverting to the most restrictive purple tier. The county of about 2.5 million residents has asked for a review of its data and will stay in the red tier until the state makes a decision on its status later this week.

“Moving back a tier is important,” Ghaly said. “We don’t want to do it without a significant degree of conversation and understanding.”

Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said the county hopes to persuade the state that it can maintain its current status while still slowing the spread of the virus. A slip back to the purple tier would adversely affect small businesses like restaurants and gyms, which could be forced to shut down indoor operations again, the county said in a statement.

Two San Francisco Bay Area counties, Alameda and Santa Clara, will advance to the less-restrictive orange tier, which allows for increased capacity at restaurants, movie theaters and houses of worship — all with modifications to require face coverings.


The lifting of some restrictions in counties that have shown improvement comes as California sees a continued drop in COVID-19 cases. The seven-day positivity rate was down to 2.7%, Ghaly said. The number of hospitalizations is about 2,225 — a significant drop from a peak of around 7,000 over the summer, he said.

Ghaly said overall trends are moving in the right direction, thanks in part to Californians’ increased willingness to wear masks and avoid large gatherings.

“The more that that becomes widespread around the community, we’re going to see these numbers stabilize and come down,” Ghaly said.

But he added “we’re not out of the woods, and we’re seeing a number of increases across the country, and across the world in terms of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.”

Officials are urging families to skip trick-or-treating this Halloween and instead have costume contests and pumpkin carvings online.

“The whole act of going door-to-door in groups ringing doorbells, digging into buckets of delicious candy, create a risk of spreading spreading COVID-19,” Ghaly said. But he stressed that it was a recommendation, not a rule, and trick-or-treaters will not see any enforcement.

California on Friday night also eased restrictions to allow up to three households to socialize outdoors, an expansion of rules aimed at people tempted to have even larger gatherings around Halloween, Thanksgiving and end-of-year holidays.

Meanwhile Tuesday, Fresno County stayed in the red tier and four other counties in the central part of the state — Kern, Colusa, Sutter and Stanislaus — advanced from purple to red. Those improvements were particularly gratifying after those counties experienced

Gathering Limits Eased For College Students In Boulder

BOULDER, CO — The gathering limit for people ages 18 to 22 in Boulder has been loosened, public health officials announced Tuesday. As of noon, students can gather in groups of up to six people.

“This is such good news. This means that our community is safer from the spread of this disease, and young adults can connect with a few more of their friends,” said Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health executive director.

Between Oct. 2 and Saturday, 239 new cases of the coronavirus were reported in Boulder County — a far lower weekly number than the county reported over the past month, public health data shows.

Boulder County Public Health issued an order Sept. 24 that required everyone in Boulder between the ages of 18 to 22 to halt gatherings, and so far, the order appears to be working — the University of Colorado Boulder’s spike in cases has dropped dramatically, health officials confirmed. The university reported only six new cases Monday.

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CU is working with Boulder County Public Health and students to determine how football games and other university-sponsored events will look.

“This has been tough on our young adults and on our community. Our hope is that new cases will continue to decline, and young adults will be able to return to the Safer at Home gathering size allowance of ten people, like the rest of the county,” Zayach said.

“We know that the majority of young adults are following the requirements and they should get to gather with friends safely. Individuals who have not been adhering to the guidance will be held accountable.”

Metrics for the young adult levels are monitored daily and reported weekly. The decision to move levels is decided and announced by Boulder County Public Health by 11 a.m. on Tuesdays each week. Any changes in restrictions will take effect at noon on the Tuesday they’re announced, health officials said.

>> More details about the county’s latest public health orders can be found here.

This article originally appeared on the Boulder Patch

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Mask ordinance extended through Nov. 8th; Hospital and nursing home restrictions eased

Governor Kay Ivey extended her health order including a statewide mask ordinance through November 8th as part of Alabama’s continued efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We’ve heard from a lot of you and I hear you but I look forward to lifting the mask order as much as you do, if not more and hopefully that can be sooner, not later,” said Ivey acknowledging the frustration among many Alabamians eager to return to a sense of normalcy. 

Ivey’s announcement kept virtually all of Alabama’s Safer At Homer order in place. The new order did ease restrictions on hospitals and nursing homes by allowing patients and residents to  be visited by one caregiver or visitor at a time.

Nursing homes are still subject to a series of federal restrictions issued in September by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The regulations state a facility must go 14 days without any positive COIVD-19 tests of staff or patients. If a positive test occurs, the clock starts all over again. Indoor visitation is also prohibited for any facility located in a county with a 10% positivity rate. 

The decision comes a day after the Alabama ABC Board voted to remove an 11 p.m. last call on alcohol sales. The restriction was put in place in late July on the recommendation of Governor Kay Ivey and public health officials.

“It was a business killer” said ABC administrator H. Mac Gipson after the vote.

READ: Alabama ABC Board rescinds 11 p.m. last call for bars, restaurants

Dr. Debroah Birx, the coordinator of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, advised Ivey extend Alabama’s face mask ordinance during a meeting last week. 

“If you look at what happened within two weeks of the mask mandate, you can see the dramatic decline in cases here in Alabama,” Birx said. “We talked about the importance of keeping those mitigations strong through the fall to get through this fall together, to ensure that people are immunized for flu to really protect one another, keep the rates down, get the rates down even further. Alabama’s test positivity is really dropping, really improving, but we’ve got to do even more.

READ: Dr. Deborah Birx calls for Alabama’s face mask order to be extended

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