HANFORD — Kings County has finally hit the second-least restrictive tier for COVID-19 reopening guidelines, but there’s still work to be done to reach the final step.
Two weeks ago, Kings County was moved into the orange tier, allowing for the reopening of many indoor businesses at 50% capacity. However, many other businesses such as gyms, breweries and wineries, hotels, cardrooms and theme parks are expected to remain at 25% capacity.
Bars are also open, but only in an outdoor capacity. Under the next stage — yellow tier — most of these businesses can be open to 50% capacity with some exceptions. Theme parks and outdoor performances, for example, can open at 35% and 67% respectively.
In a virtual meeting with the Board of Supervisors held Tuesday morning, Kings County Public Health Director Ed Hill said that they’ve made great strides in bringing down the numbers of both new and ongoing cases, while vaccinating as much of the population as possible. However, last week saw little progress, with only 572 doses administered.
“It was a slow week for vaccines. We have already reached 300 vaccines just yesterday and we’re not really sure why it was such a slow week last week - we do anticipate a much busier week this week.”
In order for Kings County to clear the last hurdle for the yellow tier, it needs to bring the number of daily new cases to less than two per 100,000 people, with a less than 2% positive test rate. According to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy website, the current number of new cases is 4.2 per 100,000 people, but the overall positivity rate is 1.5%. In the lowest demographic quartile for the state’s Healthier Places Index, Kings is presently at 1.4% positivity.
"This means our cases per 100,000 meets orange tier criteria and our testing positivity is still yellow-tier criteria,” Hill said.
In March, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that a final “green tier” would also be added as case rates continued to go down in the state. What this will mean in terms of limitations and the rates needed has not been made public yet.