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Reopening regression: Riverside County moves back to ‘purple’ tier for at least 3 weeks

Riverside County is returning to the 'purple,' or most restrictive tier, county and state officials confirmed Tuesday.

The move comes because the county continues to miss the mark on the adjusted case rate threshold set by the state. Right now, the county is at 9.1 new cases per day per 100,000 people. It needs to be 7 or lower.

The county's positivity rate is 5.2 percent – which already meets the 'red' tier threshold.

As a result of this regression, many are expecting a hit to the local economy. Indoor operations for a number of sectors are required to close in the next three days, including movie theaters, places of worship, museums and zoos, gyms, and indoor restaurant dining.

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"It's unfortunate that businesses have to close back down," said Lisa Redwine, dining at Lulu California Bistro in downtown Palm Springs.

"My biggest fear is that a lot of people are not going to be able to hang on," said Vincent Corrales. "They're just going to call it quits. They just can't do it, they can't pay their bills, they can't pay their staff."

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"The return to the purple tier will adversely impact small businesses like restaurants and gyms which were able to provide indoor services in the red tier after having business operations restricted for several months throughout the course of the pandemic," county officials said in a news release. "The state also announced today that all personal care services were moved into the purple reopening tier and may continue inside operations."

Schools that have reopened during the period of time in the red tier that allowed for the return of modified in-person instruction are allowed to remain open, Dr. Kaiser said. A school that has not yet reopened may not. The county will reinstate the waiver system.

Dr. Cameron Kaiser

"I do appreciate the tremendous effort made by our businesses and residents over the last week on testing, but I think it is clear we will not be able to test our way out of this." Kaiser said. "The quickest way that we can return to the red tier and progress further is by businesses, institutions, and individuals taking the virus seriously, and because we are taking it seriously, engaging in the right precautions to protect ourselves individually and our patrons and clients."

Ahead of Tuesday's announcement, Kim Saruwatari, Director of Public Health, shared the latest metrics with the Board. "Our unadjusted case rate is 8.4 per 100,000. Our adjusted case rate, based on testing volume, is at 9.1 per 100,000. Our positivity is at 5.2%," Dr. Saruwatari said. She did note that there had been an uptick in the county testing levels week-to-week.

"We are working on different testing strategies," she said. They are exploring "other ways to test," including the creation of a "testing task force" convened by Emergency Management Director Bruce Barton.

Just last month, Riverside County moved from the purple most restrictive tier into the red tier of reopening.

The state is still allowing all personal care services to operate indoors, including tattoo and massage parlors, and hair and nail salons.

Stay up-to-date with the latest local coronavirus news, including reopenings and closing, new case data, live news conferences, and other updates at KESQ.com/Coronavirus or download the News Channel 3 app on the Apple Store and Google Play.

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