CA Gov. Announces New 4 Tier, Color-Coded System for CA Counties to Reopen


California Gov. Newsom announces reopening guidelines - again - for the counties in the state and this time it's color-coded and in tiers.

"COVID-19 will be with us for a long time and we need to adapt," Newsom said.

Newsom said there will be a uniform framework that provides four tiers, not 58 variations. Newsom said the tiers are color-coded county guidelines to get through the flu season and with COVID-19. The metrics to move through the tiers will be case rate and test positivity for county movement  - "the new simple metrics that will determine movement within these tiers," Newsom said.

There was also an announcement that barbershops and hair salons can reopen across the state on Monday, Aug. 31 but that can be overridden by individual counties.

For example, LA County is in the purple tier which means "As of August 31, 2020, counties in the Widespread (purple) tier may open some businesses and activities with modifications, including all retail, shopping centers at maximum 25% capacity, and hair salons and barbershops indoors."

However, LA County Public Health said on Friday that the health officer order has NOT been changed to allow that.

"While LA County can, under CA’s new #COVID19 reopening rules, allow barbershops and hair salons to resume indoor operations and malls to reopen (at 25% capacity) on Monday, @lapublichealth says the health officer order has NOT been changed to allow that to happen," reports KNX reporter Claudia Peschiutta.

While LA County can, under CA’s new #COVID19 reopening rules, allow barbershops and hair salons to resume indoor operations and malls to reopen (at 25% capacity) on Monday, @lapublichealth says the health officer order has NOT been changed to allow that to happen. @KNX1070

— Claudia Peschiutta (@ReporterClaudia) August 28, 2020

Under the state's new rules, come Monday, LA and Orange counties will be allowed to reopen malls, at 25% capacity, and let barbershops and hair salons resume indoor operations. Waiting for comment from @lapublichealth. @KNX1070

— Claudia Peschiutta (@ReporterClaudia) August 28, 2020

Newsom said the blueprint for a safer economy will be statewide, simple, slow, and stringent. The four tiers will be:

purple -widespread where most non-essential indoor businesses remain closed

red - substantial where some non-essential indoor businesses operations are closed

orange - moderate where some business operations are open with modifications.

 yellow - minimal where most business operations are open with modifications.


Newsom said 38 counties, including LA County, are in the purple tier, 9 counties in the red tier, 8 counties in orange and three counties in yellow adding that 87 percent of the state's population is in the purple tier, 12 percent is in the red.

The new assessments will begin every Tuesday beginning Sept. 8.

There is a part of the website that will be live shortly to check on businesses by sector, by county:

California now has 688,858 confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in 12,690 deaths. The number of COVID-related deaths increased by 1.1 percent from Wednesday's total of 12,550. The number of COVID-19 diagnostic test results in California reached a total of 11,010,637, an increase of 92,222 tests since Wednesday. The rate of positive tests over the last 14 days is 6.0 percent. 

He said the purple risk level is the old monitoring state watch list including more than 30 counties that were placed on that list. He said that means more than 7 new daily new cases per 100,000.

"Purple is replacing the old monitoring list," Newsom said adding counties that start in higher tiers have met that tier's criteria for two weeks.

In the red tier it is "substantial spread or positivity rates that are 5 to 8 percent."

He said orange is moderate and yellow is minimum where you have less than 1 daily new case per 100,000.


21 day-mandatory wait time between moves

Meet the metrics for the next tier for two straight weeks.

Counties can only move one tier at a time

Assesses weekly

#LIVE: To advance to the next tier, a county must meet requirements including waiting 21 days and meeting metrics for the next tier for 2 straight weeks, according to @GavinNewsom

— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) August 28, 2020


Fail to meet current tier's metrics for two straight weeks

Dr. Mark Ghaly said on Friday counties are going to be slow-moving through this. He said if a county is assigned a tier they should expect to be in that tier "for at least three weeks."

He said for example for zoos, museums - they are still only allowed to do outdoor only with modifications IF you are in the purple widespread tier.

Breaking: here is California’s new color-coded, 4-tier system to govern when a county can reopen during #coronavirus. Fair question: why didn’t @GavinNewsom come up with something like this back in the spring? #COVID19

— SovernNation (@SovernNation) August 28, 2020


Previously, Newsom has ordered the closure of fitness centers, houses of worship, hair salons and barbershops indoors, nail salons in those counties on the state monitoring list, which includes LA County, and other counties across the state. Newsom has also reminded what's closed statewide - indoor operations at dine-in restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, zoos, bars including outdoors - and what was closed in certain counties on the state monitoring list like gyms, shopping malls and places of worship. 

Meanwhile, LA County, Orange County and Riverside counties decided to close their bars in early July and late June.

The city of LA also ordered the closures of their gyms, nail salons, hair salons and barbershops indoors, and houses of worship.


Earlier this month, Newsom announced a state of emergency due to the wildfires. There are more than a dozen major wildfires burning across the state and two major fires burning in the Bay Area.

Newsom said on Friday there are shy of 15,000 firefighters battling blazes, nearly 2,400 engines to suppress the fires and more than 730 fires across the state and 1.4 million acres burned. 

More than 2,100 structures have been destroyed and there have been seven fatalities. 

He said there are active fires across the state including the SCU and LNU Lightning Complex fires, the Sheep fire.

Ghaly earlier this week said there's been an intersection between COVID-19 and the wildfires adding questions like "what does it mean to operate a shelter with physical distancing?" need to be addressed.

Ghaly said thousands of people, or 136,000 Californians, are under evacuation in many parts of the state and of those, 3,383 are living in shelters.

He said shelters have ample PPE and masks and distanced cots are placed at least six feet apart. 


Newsom announced a new approach and partnership in an effort to disrupt the COVID-19 testing market to bring down costs and improve reliability and access to everybody in terms of getting more tests.

He said the state is currently conducting an average of roughly 100,000 tests per day and the turn-around time is up to a week.

The average cost of a molecular diagnostic test is $150-$200, he said adding the state is partnering with PerkinElmer to build a new lab in the state with a full supply chain.

He said with this partnership, California is adding up to additional 150,000 diagnostic tests per day. He said tests will have a 24 to 48 hour guaranteed turn-around time.

He said 40,000 tests will cost $47.99, if there are 100,000 tests that will ost $37.78 and 150,000 tests will be $30.78.

Newsom said Amador and Glenn counties were removed and Tehama County was added from the state monitoring list where there are more than 30 counties listed including LA County. Orange County was removed from the state monitoring list this week.


Ghaly reminded of the 136,000 evacuees across the state and just over 3,000 who are in shelters.

He said for those 133,000 evacuees who are out of their homes for the first time in months, they may be staying with friends or family.

He added if someone is staying with family or friends, try to wear a face-covering indoors while mixing with people you haven't seen in a while. "Wash your hands often."

The statewide COVID-19 hotline is  1-833 422-4255.


Newsom said schools can physically reopen when its county has been off the monitoring list for 14 consecutive days. Schools that don't meet this requirement must begin the year with distance learning, according to Newsom. 

Newsom said the schools in those counties on the watch list can't reopen in-person school until they are off the state monitoring list for two weeks straight unless the district superintendent requests a waiver from the county health officer, which may be granted.

For those schools that can open, there are new restrictions and criteria in place. Newsom said all school staff and students in third grade and above must wear masks. Students in second grade and below are encouraged to wear masks or face shields.

Staff must maintain six feet between each other and with students. He said there will be symptom checks, hand washing stations, deep sanitation and disinfection efforts and quarantine protocols.

There will be a requirement to test staff regularly. Newsom outlined when should in-person learning close?

That's when schools should consult with a public health officer first. He said a classroom cohort goes home when there is a confirmed case, and a school goes home when multiple cohorts have cases or more than 5 percent of the school is positive.

He said a district goes home if 25 percent of their schools are closed within a 14 days period.