RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — The California Department of Public Health has moved Riverside County back into the most restrictive purple tier, just a month after the state allowed the county to reopen some schools and more businesses.
Riverside County had already been allowed to stay in the red tier for another week even as its testing and infection numbers deteriorated.
The county’s metrics include a 5.2% positivity rate, which the county says is within the red tier range. But the county’s case rate of 9.1 per 100,000 prompted its move back into the most-restrictive purple tier.
Riverside County was also not testing to the state’s requirements, with about 195 people a day per 100,000 residents being tested. The statewide testing median is 239 people a day per 100,000 residents.
To date, the county has tested 763,502 residents and has reported 64,668 cases, 1,273 deaths. As of Tuesday, 157 Riverside County residents were hospitalized due to the coronavirus and among them, 42 were in intensive care units.
The move back into the purple tier means that some businesses that were allowed to reopen – like movie theaters, gyms and dining rooms – will have to close again.
Other businesses will again face tougher restrictions on capacity and indoor services. Businesses are being given 72 hours to readjust their operations.
Houses of worship in the county will also be required to move outdoor or shut down — something at least one church leader is pushing back against.
“You know the yo-yo, back and forth of the governor. Make up your mind!” said Word of Life Ministries International lead pastor Brenda Wood.
Wood says the inconsistency with closures and reopenings is scaring parishioners and has forced her to defy the county’s orders.
“We’re gonna stay inside. Again, because it’s our first amendment right to assemble together,” Wood said. “We’ve got to stay open so people can have hope.”
Schools that have already reopened for in-person instruction will be allowed to stay open, but those that have not will need to apply for a waiver from the Riverside County Public Health Officer and state Department of Public Health.
Personal services, like hair and nail salons, will also be allowed to continue their indoor operations even with Riverside County moving back into the purple tier.
The restrictions will last for a minimum of three weeks, but it could take much longer for the county’s case rate to improve.
California is requiring the county to test more people and they’re only counting the PCR swab test rather than other rapid tests that have become widely available.