Covid-19, novel coronavirus 2019
Novel Coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) (CDC Image)

MONTEREY COUNTY — Monterey County will remain in the moderately restrictive Orange Tier in the state’s reopening blueprint system as determined Tuesday, following County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno’s announcement last week that the region could possibly shift soon.

During a press briefing May 5, Moreno said the county has met the state’s requirements and only needs to keep metrics, such as rates of cases, testing positivity and hospitalizations, in check to move onward out of the Orange Tier.

However, Monterey County’s case rate metric is currently at 2.6 per 100,000, and needs to meet or go below 1.9 per 100,000 to meet the Yellow Tier threshold. The county will remain in Orange Tier until it meets all Yellow Tier metrics for two consecutive weeks.

The announcement on whether the county would move into the Yellow Tier took place May 11, when the state determined the county had not met the metrics for two consecutive weeks. 

In other pandemic progress, Moreno also noted the vaccine allocations have reached more than 63% of eligible Monterey County residents. 

In addition to the preparation for an eventual shift to possibly come at a later week, Moreno said the California Department of Public Health has updated pandemic guidance once again. Of note in the updates, he said employers were reminded to continue using face coverings.

“Guidance documents remind employers if they’re subject to Cal/OSHA requirements, then they have to follow the Cal/OSHA Covid-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards to make sure their employees follow face covering requirements in those standards,” he said.

Moreno highlighted another change, in which face coverings are not required for fully vaccinated individuals unless they’re attending a crowded outdoor event, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events and similar settings.

Any individual or employer with questions about guidelines can call the county Covid-19 call center at 831-769-8700. 

With the nearing shift in vaccine standards to allow the vaccination of children younger than 16, Moreno said local clinics and care providers are already looking into how to provide those services. He noted schools would likely be clinic locations as they’re familiar to residents and communities, but also said family practice doctors would likely be involved as they have experience with traditional vaccinations and young patients.

One barrier with pediatric doctors and family practice doctors providing doses to patients are the storage requirements, which may change.

“The FDA may be considering changing the temperature storage criteria and storage requirements for some vaccines, which would perhaps allow providers who haven’t been able to store vaccine to store vaccine that is kept viable for a longer period of time at refrigerator temperatures,” Moreno said.

The county released a notice telling families to contact their doctor or healthcare provider for information about vaccines for 12 to 15 year olds.

“We got to the Orange Tier by people getting vaccinated and continuing to use face coverings, even in situations where the state says you don’t have to wear a face covering, a lot of people continue to wear them,” Moreno said. “Continue to keep our distance, and if anyone has symptoms of Covid-19, it’s still a good idea to get tested.”

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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