Butte County placed in state's most restrictive tier, public health expected red tier

Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom placed Butte County and 40 other California counties directly into the most restrictive tier of the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

Posted: Nov 17, 2020 12:21 AM
Updated: Nov 17, 2020 11:47 AM

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - Tier changes go into effect immediately, and in Butte County, even public health was expecting to be placed in the red tier.

This two-tier jump is a part of the state's hope to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"Unfortunately it's not good news, and it has a significant impact to our community," said Director of Butte County Public Health, Danette York.

Butte County saw a large increase in COVID-19 cases moving it into the purple tier and Dr. Robert Bernstein warns cases could keep climbing.

"My concern is that it will continue to rise and perhaps reach an even taller peak maybe," said Bernstein.

RELATED: 4 North State counties placed into state's most restrictive Covid-19 tier

"They moved the counties immediately based on this data," said York. "And they moved counties into the tier assignment they fell in regardless of whether or not it skipped tiers."

One of those data points the state looks at is positivity rate, and in Butte County, it's low enough to be in the orange tier.

"If one metric met a higher tier level than another metric, we would go with the most restrictive," said York. "I was very surprised, I believe everyone here at public health and the county was surprised."

Butte County's cases per 100,000 reached a staggering 10.8. Anything above a 7.0 is considered widespread in California.

"I think it's frustrating because it felt like life was just starting to go somewhat back to normal," said gym go-er, Kaylin Patterson. "I felt like we made so much progress and now hearing that this afternoon that we're going back into purple it's like, almost a bit hopeless."

Restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, and entertainment centers must all close indoor operations. Retail stores must limit capacity to 25%. But schools can choose to stay open, and we asked York, why.

"Now that they're open and we're in the purple tier, why are they not closing, why are they continuing to stay open?" asked Action News reporter Esteban Reynoso.

"If a school opened while the jurisdiction was in the tier that allowed them to open," responded York. "They would be able to remain open going forward, it was just too much to try to close back down."

York told Action News Now while schools can stay open, classroom sizes will remain the same.

Colleges for those in the purple tier counties will go virtual, or remain in virtual learning.

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