Humboldt County was the only one in California to meet the state’s newly applied "equity metric," which is meant to ensure certain communities are not disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
That, according to county Health Officer Teresa Frankovich, is what prompted the state to move Humboldt into the “minimal” COVID risk category under California's four-tiered system for determining the level of activity allowed based on test positivity rates and cases per 100,000 individuals.
Under the lowest risk category, most indoor businesses can reopen but the county can put further restrictions in place, according to the state. Read more about what it means here
In essence, the equity metric requires counties to close gaps in infection rates or hospitalizations and work to address COVID-19 impacts across all communities, including lower income residents who are more likely to be on frontline jobs and persons of color in order to move forward in the state's tiered system.
Under the latest data, Humboldt has a test positivity rate of 1.5 percent and averages 2 cases per 100,000 individuals, which is above the 1 case per 100,000 threshold a county is supposed to meet in order to be in the minimal category.
The state averages 7.1 cases per 100,000 and a test positivity rate of 3.2 percent.
Frankovich described the new designation as “great news” but also cautioned that it could be fleeting, with an increase in case rates over the next weeks enough to push Humboldt back into a more restrictive tier.
“If we want to stay in yellow, we all have to adhere to the safety measures that have helped get us here,” she said in a news release.
Humboldt is the largest of the seven California counties to reach the minimal level.
Frankovich praised residents and the efforts of Public Health and Emergency Operations Center response staff for Humboldt, the first rural county in the United State to have a confirmed COVID-19 case, to be in the position it is today.
“Living through and navigating this global pandemic has required herculean efforts from our entire community,” she said. “We could not have gotten here if not for this community’s commitment to the health and safety of our friends and neighbors.”