Los Angeles, Orange counties within striking distance of moving to orange tier

Los Angeles and Orange counties are close to advancing into the orange tier in the state's reopening criteria as the daily COVID-19 case rate continues to fall in those areas.

Both counties moved into the less-restrictive red tier on Monday, and both are eyeing a move into the orange tier in the coming weeks, which would allow the county to lift all capacity limits at retail stores and shopping malls, while raising the allowable capacity at other locations, such as museums, movie theaters, aquariums, churches, fitness centers and restaurants. The orange tier would also authorize a reopening of bars for outdoor service and limited indoor service at wineries and breweries.

The case rate in L.A. County has fallen to 4.1 per 100,000 residents. To move from the red tier to the orange tier, a county must have a daily case rate of 3.9 per 100,000 residents or better for two consecutive weeks.

The latest update from the state shows Orange County's coronavirus case rate fell for a ninth straight week to four cases per day per 100,000 residents. The positivity rate also fell from 3.2 percent last week to 2.2 percent this week.

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Los Angeles County restaurants can again welcomed customers indoors, and movie theaters and fitness centers were able to reopen, all at limited capacity, Monday after the county advanced to a less-restrictive tier.

Falling case rates are continuing throughout the state, including in San Diego and Riverside counties, which both qualified Tuesday to join L.A. and Orange counties in the red tier. As of Tuesday, only 11 of the state's 58 counties were still languishing in the most-restrictive purple tier of the economic-reopening blueprint. Gov. Gavin Newsom said that equates to more and more business activity, more people back in schools, more and more energy, more optimism about this state and its future.''

L.A. County on Monday officially entered the red tier of state's four-level "Blueprint for a Safer Economy," which governs business restrictions during the pandemic. County rankings in the blueprint are based on the rates of daily new cases and the rate of people testing positive for the virus. L.A. County's seven-day average of positive tests is now at 2%, according to the state.

The county entered the red tier -- which allowed the resumption of indoor dining and the reopening of movie theaters and indoor fitness centers, all at limited capacity -- thanks to the daily case rate averaging less than 10 per 100,000 residents for two weeks.

The improving numbers came on a day Los Angeles County marked the anniversary of its first public health order issued in response to the virus. The order prohibited public gatherings and shuttered businesses that involved close interactions of people, including restaurants and bars. Three days later, the county issued its formal Safer At Home'' order requiring people to remain at home unless they were working at an essential business or were obtaining essential service.

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Orange County has entered the less-restrictive red tier in the state's reopening framework, allowing for bigger crowds in retail stores and the reopening of museums, movie theaters and indoor dining at restaurants.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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