Van Do-Reynoso addressed Board of Supervisors

Van Do-Reynoso, inset, director of Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, tells the Board of Supervisors about the state's new vaccination metric that will change how counties are assigned to the color-coded tiers in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy in this screenshot from CSBTV's livestream of Tuesday's meeting.

Santa Barbara County could move into the red tier of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy as soon as Friday if the state hits its first vaccination goal and the county’s adjusted case rate remains at its current level, according to a report delivered Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors.

The new vaccination metric is the latest iteration of the state’s plan to control the spread of COVID-19 and reopen the economy safely, although the constant changes in goals and how the state measures progress has been a source of criticism, especially in the business community.

The new metric sets two goals for the number of vaccine doses administered to those who are considered the most economically disadvantaged, referred to as the lowest quartile, or 25% of the population, for assignment to the color-coded tiers.

Van Do-Reynoso, director of the County Public Health Department, told the board when the first goal of 2 million vaccine doses have been administered in the lowest quartile, the threshold keeping counties from moving out of the most restrictive purple tier and into the second-most restrictive red tier will shift from more than 7 cases to more than 10 cases per 100,000 residents.

Currently, the county’s case rate is 9.6 per 100,000 residents.

California vaccination metric

A chart shows how the thresholds for the state's color-coded tiers will change in Blueprint for a Safer Economy based on hitting the goals of 2 million and 4 million vaccine doses administered to the lowest quartile of the population. The second row from the top shows the current thresholds in this chart provided in a report on COVID-19 to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

“If this were [to] happen today, we would be able to move into the red tier,” Do-Reynoso said of the first vaccination goal. “So the bottom line is this really allows Santa Barbara County to move into the red tier much quicker.”

In addition to the purple tier, the red tier would be widened from the current 4 to 7 cases per 100,000 residents to 4 to 10 cases per 100,000 once 2 million doses are reached, Do-Reynoso said.

The state’s second goal is to administer 4 million doses to those in the 400 ZIP codes, she said.

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Once that happens, the red tier will narrow to 6 to 10 cases per 100,000, the orange tier will shift from the existing 1 to 3.9 cases per 100,000 to 2 to 5.9 per 100,000, and the yellow tier will shift from less than 1 case per 100,000 to less than 2 cases per 100,000.

Do-Reynoso said tier assignments will be revised the day after the state hits its vaccine targets, and the assignments will be announced the day after that.

As of Tuesday, almost 1.9 million vaccine doses had been administered to those in the lowest quartile, representing 18.2% of all the vaccine doses delivered.

“Given the volume of vaccines that … is occurring statewide, it is conceivable by Friday or early next week we would be moved into the [red],” Do-Reynoso said.

Although vaccination appointments are difficult to come by, often closing out as soon as they become available, both Do-Reynoso and supervisors urged those who are eligible to get vaccinated.

Do-Reynoso also urged the public to continue being tested, noting that with the vaccine available, some people feel the tests are no longer that important.

But she said it will be “many months” before the entire county population is vaccinated, and testing is critical for the county to continue moving through the tiers and reopening the economy.

“More testing means more reopening,” Do-Reynoso said

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