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Humboldt County’s dramatic increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases is forecast to have prompted state public health officials on Tuesday to direct us to the most stringent, purple level under California’s “Plan for a Safer Economy”.
The move comes just eight days after Humboldt County has moved from the least restrictive or yellow level directly to the red or “significant” level, while public health officials have applied the “emergency brake” to slow the spread.
Of the state’s 58 counties, 45, including all of Humboldt’s neighbors, are now in purple, while another eight are in red. This means that 99.9 percent of California residents live in counties where there is a “significant” or “widespread” risk.
In a live press conference online at noon on Tuesday, California Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Mark Ghaly said cases in California are growing faster than ever. “We’re in the middle of a surge,” he said.
The latest state-wide number of 15,329 cases per day is close to a record, Ghaly said. In the last two weeks, the rate of test positivity increased by 51% and the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations by 81.3%. There are currently 5,844 California residents hospitalized for COVID-19, and Ghaly said we can expect an increase in deaths as well.
So what does purple coloring mean in Humboldt County? In short, several restrictions. Since Thanksgiving is only for two days, gatherings are limited to three households and now only need to take place outdoors. Restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and places of worship are also limited to operations under the purple layer, only outdoors. Retail is limited to 25 percent capacity, compared to 50 percent of the red level.
A complete list of restrictions at each level can be found on the California Department of Public Health website at this link.
On Facebook, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office said it continues to prioritize “rather than criminal enforcement of health orders over education and voluntary compliance,” stating that “it has achieved overwhelming success with this approach”.
APPENDIX: One thing we forgot to mention is that this (as the county put it in a press release):
Now that Humboldt County is at the purple standard, the state’s limited home residency will take effect locally on Wednesday. This regulation requires residents to refrain from gathering from non-household members and to stop non-core activities between 10pm and 5am. Members of the same household can then leave their homes as long as they do not come into contact with other households and the activities related to the “operation, maintenance or use of critical infrastructure” are exempt by state order.