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COVID Reopening: Monterey County Could Enter Yellow Tier Next Week; 61% Have Received Vaccine Dose

SALINAS (BCN) – Monterey County could move into the Yellow Tier of the state's pandemic reopening system as soon as next week, the county's top health official said Tuesday.

Monterey County's rate of new cases per day per 100,000 residents, adjusted for the county's testing capacity, is down to 1.9, coming in just under the 2 cases per 100,000 required for a county to progress to the Yellow Tier.

The county also has an overall test positivity rate of 0.7 percent and a positivity rate of 1.2 percent in its hardest-hit communities, both under the 2 percent rates required for the yellow tier.

County Health Officer and Public Health Director Dr. Edward Moreno told the county's Board of Supervisors that Monterey County will get credit this week for its Yellow Tier-eligible metrics.

Once the county has held those metrics for two consecutive weeks, it will be able to move out of the Orange Tier. The state's Department of Public Health generally updates tier assignments on Tuesdays.

"This is an indication of low but stable transmission of COVID-19," Moreno said. "(It's) still in our community, but it's a low transmission rate, which means we have a low case rate."

Moving to the Yellow Tier would enable many business sectors to expand their indoor operations to 50 percent capacity or higher while also allowing bars to reopen indoors at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

Moreno said the county's progress with vaccination has helped spur its movement into less-restrictive tiers, with 61 percent of county residents age 16 and up having received at least one vaccine dose.

In the coming weeks, Moreno said another roughly 24,000 county residents are expected to become vaccine-eligible once federal regulators grant emergency use authorization to the two-dose Pfizer vaccine for people ages 12 to 15.

County officials are currently working with health care providers like family practitioners and pediatricians to help vaccinate kids in that age group.

"We do have quite a few providers to adolescent patients here and we're really hoping that we can get as many of them on board to make that an additional strategy to get kids vaccinated," Moreno said.

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