Covid-19, novel coronavirus 2019
Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) (CDC Image)

MONTEREY COUNTY — Appointments are available at Monterey County testing sites as the region continues to respond to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, including new state guidelines for a tiered reopening system.

“Coronavirus took a step back in the news to the fires, but we are still in a pandemic,” said Maia Carroll, the county’s communications coordinator, during an Aug. 28 briefing.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Aug. 28 revealed what he called a new, more “stringent” four-tiered reopening system that allows counties to open their economies depending on their Covid-19 case and test positivity rates.

The new system replaces the monitoring list, and removes many of the old benchmarks counties had to meet in order to unlock swaths of their economy.

Now, counties can begin to reopen if their new cases per 100,000 residents per day start to decline, along with their positivity rates.

The system ranges from Widespread, to Substantial, to Moderate, to Minimal.

Widespread regions, which Monterey County has been categorized, have more than seven new cases per 100,000 residents per day and are under the most restrictions.

At the opposite end, Minimal counties are rated based on less than one new case per 100,000 per day, and are allowed to have most indoor business operations open with modifications.

Each county will be reassessed every Tuesday starting on Sept. 8, Newsom said.

Counties that do not meet their current tier’s metrics will be moved back into more restrictive tiers, as Monterey County had done earlier this summer when it was moved to a watch list categorization that preceded the new risk level system.

According to Karen Smith, the county health department’s public information officer, the state has been shifting recommendations on who should be tested for Covid-19. She said those who should get tested include contacts of known infected, and she encouraged first responders, health care providers and anyone who has come into contact with positive cases to get tested, as well.

“We’re still going to test people who have come in contact with cases or were contacts of the case found in the contact investigations,” Smith said.

The two county testing sites for Covid-19 continue to operate, and have availability for appointments.

“We’re still running about 85% of capacity of our Salinas state-supported site, which is Cesar Chavez library,” Smith said. “At that one, you can make an appointment. There are a limited number of walk-ins at that site.”

In addition to the Salinas site, the other county testing site is at the Greenfield Branch Library.

“The Greenfield site was at 55%,” Smith said. “They have open appointments, you can probably get one the next day.”

Smith said the county is still hosting pop-up testing sites, which have different locations to meet the needs of those who can’t make it to the main testing sites.

Monterey County has 8,149 confirmed cumulative cases of Covid-19 as of Sept. 2, an increase of 81 from the previous day. There have been 487 cumulative hospitalizations and 58 total deaths. As of Wednesday, 5,245 residents have recovered from the virus.

A total of 73,513 people have been tested for Covid-19 in Monterey County, with the positivity rate being 11.09%.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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