MONTEREY COUNTY — Covid-19 case rates, positivity rates and hospitalization rates continue to be low in Monterey County, as announced by County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno during the April 21 press briefing.
Despite an alarming 24 virus-related deaths in the past week, Moreno said those rates mean the county can remain in Orange Tier and on track for possible continued easing of restrictions.
“As long as those remain down, I’m still hopeful that our number of deaths will continue to be low,” Moreno said.
Last Wednesday an additional 15 deaths were reported by the Monterey County Health Department, one of the highest totals added in a single day. The day before, there were seven.
As of Tuesday, there have been 381 residents who have died from Covid-19.
“Over the last few days we have been surprised by the high number of deaths being added to the total losses from this pandemic,” said County Supervisor Chris Lopez on social media. “We reached out to staff and were told that deaths are still occurring from Covid-19, and at the same time there is some data clean up happening as well that is contributing to these totals.”
Lopez added, “Every lost life is one too many, please remember to stay safe, protect one another, and get vaccinated if you are eligible.”
The latest vaccination data on Monday showed that 58% of Monterey County residents age 16 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine.
With the state continuing to update guidance, Moreno went over the current specifications for gatherings.
“In order to reduce transmission of Covid-19, outdoor gatherings are safer than gatherings indoors,” he said. “Wearing a face covering is safer than not wearing a face covering.”
Orange Tier allows gatherings, but outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 50 people and indoor gatherings are strongly discouraged, but there’s a maximum of 25% capacity if there is a known capacity or 25 people, whichever is fewer.
Private events, such as meetings, receptions or conferences, are allowed in Orange Tier. Outdoor private events are limited to 100 people, but if all guests can demonstrate that they have been vaccinated and have a recent negative test, the state will permit up to 300 people gathering outdoors. For private indoor events, if guests have all tested negative or show proof of vaccination, then up to 150 people can be indoors.
Indoor seated live events or performances are permitted under Orange Tier. Seated live events are limited to in-state visitors and the organizers need to provide for weekly worker testing. The workers aren’t required to test, but they are encouraged to take advantage of the employer’s testing program. All tickets must be purchased online and delivered digitally.
There are also capacity limits. For venues that can typically hold up to 1,500 attendees, there’s a maximum of 15% or 200 people, whichever is less. For venues that can hold 1,500 or more guests, the maximum capacity is 10% or 2,000, whichever is less.
That capacity can increase to 35% if all guests can show a recent negative test or proof of vaccination against Covid-19.
“The state recognizes that as more people get vaccinated, we have more information about how likely people are to get sick if they’re exposed and how likely they are to transmit Covid-19 if they were to get exposed,” Moreno said.
For that reason, Moreno explained people who are fully vaccinated can spend time with other people who are fully vaccinated, even indoors without masks or distancing. The state also recommends that these individuals can spend time indoors without masks or distancing with unvaccinated people from one single household, and those people have to be at low risk for severe Covid-19 disease.
“The state guidance allows for less restrictive measures as a great portion of the population gets vaccinated and growing evidence shows that people who are vaccinated are less likely to spread Covid if they become infected with Covid,” Moreno said. “But here in Monterey County, we’re still seeing cases of Covid. People are still being hospitalized with Covid and people are still dying from Covid.”
Ryan Cronk contributed to this article.