Calaveras was one of several counties to move into a less restrictive tier in the state’s four-tier COVID-19 reopening system on Tuesday, along with Sacramento, San Joaquin, Amador and others.
Under California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, implemented on Aug. 28, counties must remain in a tier for at least three weeks and meet the metrics of a less restrictive tier for two consecutive weeks before moving into that tier.
Calaveras County is now classified in the orange or “moderate” Tier 3, which allows for greater capacity in some industries including retail, restaurants and worship services. Tier 3 also permits the reopening of outdoor bars, indoor wineries and some other indoor businesses that were previously closed.
The county’s move into a less restrictive tier is due to a downward trend in COVID-19 case numbers, which have totaled 317 confirmed cases and 14 deaths to date.
“Calaveras County has seen a steady reduction in rates of new cases and in the testing positivity rate in the past (three) weeks,” county Health Officer Dean Kelaita, MD, told the Enterprise on Tuesday.
Kelaita cited a current positivity rate of 1% within the county, with 190 tests per 100,000 residents performed daily. That rate is less than half of the state’s comparative overall 3.4%.
In order to move into the least restrictive Tier 4 of the state’s reopening system, Calaveras County must maintain a positivity rate below 2% for two consecutive weeks, with less than one new case daily per 100,000 residents.
One factor that has greatly influenced the overall positivity rate in Calaveras County is the COVID-19 outbreak at Avalon Health Care, a skilled nursing facility in San Andreas.
First reported in late August, the outbreak has infected 60 residents and 26 staff members, resulting in 11 deaths out of a total 100 residents.
With two residents testing positive in the past week, the positivity rate at the facility has slowed.
Kelaita, who is also medical director at Avalon, stated on Tuesday that if the convalescent home experiences no new cases for two consecutive weekly testing cycles, the outbreak will officially be considered over.
“Due to the hard work of the dedicated staff, the outbreak of COVID-19 infections at Avalon San Andreas convalescent home has slowed down and shows signs of abating,” Kelaita said. “Avalon infection prevention staff continue to work with the local health department, as well as state experts, to prevent further COVID-19 transmission within the facility.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom stated during a Monday press conference that the state has seen a three-fold decrease in COVID-19 cases since its peak in July, though there are signs that the downward trend could be slowing.