Ventura County on the path towards the purple tier

Image+provided+by+the+CDC

Image provided by the CDC

By Karla Vazquez

On Nov. 12, 2020 Ventura County held a weekly COVID-19 press conference from the walk-in testing site at the Ventura County Fairgrounds in Ventura, CA. The walk-in site is a free service for COVID-19 testing. Kelly Long, Ventura County Board of Supervisors Board Chair, explained the risk of the county in returning to the purple tier instead of moving forward.

“If any of you watched our Ventura County Board of Supervisors Meeting on Tuesday, we were talking about the fact that there’s a risk of going back to the purple tier and what does that mean? That means restaurants and businesses going back to outdoor vs the small percentage indoor,” Long explained.

Supervisor Kelly Long at Ventura County's press conference on Nov. 12, 2020
Supervisor Kelly Long at Ventura County's press conference on Nov. 12, 2020

Ventura County reported 305 new cases with a daily average of 150 cases. There were no new deaths reported and 3,718 newly tested residents. Currently there are in total 233,789 total people tested and 36 hospitalizations. Rigoberto Vargas, director for the Ventura County Public Health Department, explained what it means for the county to go back into the purple tier.

“I think many of you are now familiar that we are in the first week of meeting the purple tier metrics, meaning we have now more than 7 cases per 100,000 residents in Ventura County,” Vargas said. “That puts us in the purple tier and officially we would go into that tier next week because the current guidelines by the state is that if you have two continuous weeks of meeting the metrics for a different tier then you are subject to go back, in our case go back to a more restrictive tier, more restrictive meaning less businesses being able to operate at their capacity.”

Ventura County’s case rate officially qualifies the county for the restrictive tier, the purple tier. The case rate metric is the seven-day average case rate per 100,000. The county’s case rate is currently 7.2. To qualify for the next tier, the red tier, it needs to be between 4.0-7.0 daily new cases per 100,000.

Vargas said the increased number of cases were due to the large gatherings happening in Ventura County.

“The largest number of cases that we are seeing are in gatherings, especially larger gatherings and so I really urge every Ventura County resident to think twice about the impact of your actions, as I said before your actions do matter and they matter in particular this week,” Vargas said.

From the tier metrics, the testing positivity and equity rate are in good standing. The testing positivity rate is at 3.0% and the equity rate at 4.8%. Mike Powers, Ventura County executive officer, mentioned that the testing volume helps with both measures.

“Testing affects our numbers and our ability to move forward in two ways, one is in adjustment factor we get a favorable adjustment factor, so the case rate that Mr. Vargas mentioned that too high comes down if we have a high testing volume so it helps with that but it also helps with the other two really important measures: the positivity rate and the equity rate and the more negative tests we have the lower those rates are,” Powers said.

Powers explained the Shasta rule, our tier placement is based on older data like 7-10 days old. What the Shasta rule means is the State Department of Health Services will look at our current data and our real time data to see if the troubling rate is discontinuing or resolving.

Melissa Barger, medial director, speak from a health care providers' perspective to remind everyone the importance of ongoing safety during the pandemic
Melissa Barger, medial director, speak from a health care providers' perspective to remind everyone the importance of ongoing safety during the pandemic

Dr. Melissa Barger, an infectious disease specialist and medical director for Ventura County Ambulatory Care, expressed her concern for the holiday season.

“With the holiday season coming up there is going to be a lot of people who feel like they want to, they’re going to be fine, they don’t have symptoms and is not the time to gather with large families, this might be a different holiday season, your thanksgiving might look different this year but this is only temporary,” Barger reassured.

For more information on Ventura County’s effort to reopen visit venturacountyrecovers.org