Dating back to summer 2020, LA County has been in the purple tier, the most restrictive tier in the state’s Blueprint For A Safer Economy program. On Tuesday, March 9th, the County officially qualified to move into the less restrictive red tier. This is a massive shift, particularly because, on paper, things like indoor dining, gyms, and movie theaters are allowed to reopen under strict capacity guidelines.
So why isn’t everyone popping the reopening champagne just yet? Because LA County qualifying for the red tier doesn’t mean it immediately is in the red tier. If you’re confused, you’re certainly not alone.
Below we’ve outlined exactly what it all means, and when you can expect to dine indoors again.
HOW WE GOT HERE
California uses a colored tier system to determine when and how counties can reopen, with purple being the most restrictive tier and yellow being the least restrictive. The process of counties qualifying for less restrictive tiers is complicated, but generally boils down to these three key metrics:
Adjusted Case Rate: The number of cases per 100,000 people that were reported in the county across a seven-day average. In some areas, that number is modified to account for the volume of testing that is done.
Test Positivity Rate: This number is representative of the percentage of tests that came back positive in the county across a seven-day average.
Equity Index: This number measures the rate of positive tests recorded in low-income neighborhoods in comparison to the county’s overall rate.
COOL, SO WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR LA?
All three metrics have to cross the same tier threshold in order for the County to qualify for that tier. As of Tuesday, March 9th, LA County’s numbers are as such:
- Adjusted Case Rate: 5.2 (red tier)
- Test Positivity Rate: 2.5% (orange tier)
- Equity Index: 3.6 (orange tier)
Therefore: As of March 9th, LA County qualifies for the red tier.
OK, SO NOW WHAT?
Once a county qualifies for a less restrictive tier (ie: LA County moving from purple to red), it must hold those numbers for two weeks before being granted status of that tier. That’s why even though LA County technically qualified for the red tier on Tuesday, March 9th, no one was rolling out the reopening red carpet.
WHY AM I HEARING THAT LA COUNTY IS REOPENING FOR INDOOR DINING IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS THEN?
Here’s the final piece to this puzzle: On March 4th, California announced a new vaccine initiative that redistributes 40% of the vaccine supply, or 2 million total shots, to the state’s most underserved zip codes. Once that goal is hit, which experts say will happen by the end of this week, health officials will further relax the criteria, thus eliminating the two-week rule. As of Tuesday, March 9th, the state announced that they have 130,000 shots left to administer.
As LA County Public Health Health Director Barbara Ferrer said on Tuesday, March 9th, “Within 48 hours of the state announcing the vaccine trigger has been met, L.A. County, along with other counties with qualifying case rates, would move into the red tier.”
THE FINAL VERDICT
Things are still entirely dependent on the completion of the vaccine initiative, but reading the tea leaves provided by the health officials, you can expect an official announcement on the reopening of indoor dining in the coming days.
This is an ongoing situation, we’ll continue to update this piece with more information as it comes in.