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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

SLO and Santa Barbara counties stay in purple tier

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2021 at 5:05 PM

San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties will both spend at least another two weeks in California’s most restrictive purple tier, according to new state COVID-19 metrics released Feb. 16.
click to enlarge GOOD TRENDS SLO County’s COVID-19 case rate is on a downward slope since a peak in January. - IMAGE COURTESY OF SLO COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH
  • GOOD TRENDS SLO County’s COVID-19 case rate is on a downward slope since a peak in January.

SLO County nearly qualified to move into the red tier—which would’ve opened indoor spaces at gyms, restaurants, and movie theaters—but a spike in the positivity rate among disproportionately impacted populations, known as the “health equity” metric, halted its progress.

The positivity rate in those disadvantaged census tracts rose from 4.8 percent to 5.9 percent during the first week of February—putting the red tier just out of reach, county officials said.

“Last week, we hit the first week of possibly qualifying for the red tier—if we retained the same status for two weeks,” explained Michelle Shoresman, a public information officer for SLO County Public Health. “Our overall test positivity rate remained at a level that would qualify us. What changed was our test positivity in the health equity quartile went up.”

While the news is a blow to businesses hoping to reopen this week, the COVID-19 numbers are mostly moving in a positive direction. SLO County’s overall positivity rate fell to 4.3 percent on Feb. 6 and its adjusted case rate is 15.6. Both numbers are the lowest they’ve been in at least two months.

Santa Barbara County is faring worse than SLO County. Its adjusted case rate is 27 and positivity rate is 8.2 percent. Santa Barbara County’s health equity rate is one of the highest in the state at 13.3 percent.

Neither county has qualified for the red tier since November 2020. Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order in early December, which he lifted on Jan. 25. Δ
—Peter Johnson
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