As coronavirus case numbers rise across California, Orange, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties all moved to the medium COVID-19 risk level this week.
The ranking is part of the CDC’s three-level system that is meant to help local jurisdictions decide what prevention steps to take based on risk levels determined by the number of hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.
Under the CDC’s system, counties with a weekly case rate over 200 new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days are automatically considered to be at either a medium or high community risk level.
Last week, Los Angeles County was the only Southern California county to move from a “low” to “medium” COVID-19 community level.
Now, all the counties along the Southern California coast are under the same designation.
Neighboring Riverside and San Bernardino counties, however, are still considered to have “low” COVID-19 community levels.
With the shift to “medium,” no new COVID-19 restrictions were announced for the general public.
However, a return to more stringent masking rules could become a reality if counties enter the CDC's "high" risk category.
L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer has said that L.A. County would shift to again requiring everyone to mask up indoors if the county moves to the higher risk category.
Currently, no county in California is in the "high" category.
However, 33 of California’s 58 counties have moved to the CDC’s "medium" COVID-19 community level — covering the majority of the state’s population.
On the east coast, numerous counties have already been designated as having high virus levels.
A county would move into the "high" category if it records 10 or more new COVID-19 hospital admissions weekly for every 100,000 residents or if at least 10% of its staffed hospital beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients in one week, according to CDC.
Much like officials in the rest of the country, health authorities in Orange County are responding to the rising COVID-19 cases by advising residents to get tested, wear well-fitted masks and get vaccinated.
“As we gather to honor those who died while serving our country this Memorial Day weekend and as we begin planning for summer events, we need to help support one another and reduce the risk of transmission, especially to those who may be at higher risk or unknowingly be at risk of getting infected,” says Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, County Health Officer. “Masking indoors or at crowded gatherings as well getting fully vaccinated and boosted remain the best way to protect ourselves and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”