California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly held a video news conference today to update the public on the current pandemic numbers in California, as well as introduce a new health equity metric that will be used in the state’s county tier system.
We learned today that Orange County will NOT be moving forward to the next tier, orange or “moderate,” today. According to Orange County health officials, theme parks like Disneyland should be able to reopen in the orange tier, but without the theme park guidelines, they cannot move forward with any reopening plans.
Orange County will remain in the red tier, “substantial,” for at least one more week. In order to move to the orange tier, the county will need their adjusted case rate to be between 1-3.9 new daily cases per 100,000, as well as acquire a positivity rate of 2-4.9%. These numbers need to hold steady for two consecutive weeks in order to advance to the next tier.
Dr. Ghaly also introduced a third metric today, the health equity metric, that a county must meet in order to advance to the next reopening tier. This new metric looks at the lowest quartile of the Healthy Places Index in order to assure that the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations in a county are also meeting the necessary health metrics.
So, for example, if county-wide numbers meet the requirements to move on to the next level tier, but the new health equity metric does not, then that county will be slowed down from advancing to the next tier. This will be another important number to keep an eye on as counties like Orange County to move forward and reopen more businesses.
When the presentation moved on to reporter questions, the topic came up of the slowing down and postponing of the release of California’s theme park guidelines, which were set to be released last week, but the following day was postponed as the administration continues to work with industry leaders.
While Dr. Ghaly was answering reporter questions, Brady MacDonald from Orange County Register asked for an update regarding the reopening guidelines. His question was, “How long do you anticipate it’ll take to iron out the guidelines with the industry stakeholders? And second, what are the major sticking points on the theme park reopening guidelines?”
Dr. Ghaly responded,“Theme parks continues to be a high priority for the administration and recognizing their role as both part of California life but also employment opportunities for thousands of Californians. As we do with every sector, we don’t take that lightly; we’re working closely with a number of the direct operators of theme parks and also the overall agency or organization representing theme parks, as well as the labor partners that represent the workers.
Dr. Ghaly continued, “In ensuring that we move forward together in a low-risk and safest way possible, I’m not sure when those conversations wrap up. I will tell you that they will wrap up as soon as we come to really hear the industry and understand some of the concerns and we continue to look at the data and information that we have. So, no promise of a specific date but I will say as soon as possible.”
When addressing what the state is looking at in order to finalize theme park guidelines, Dr. Ghaly responded, “Some of the important issues that we’re looking at are obviously not just how the operations in the theme park go. I think there are so many important, thoughtful people who are working in many of our sectors across California who have been thinking about this with a great deal of passion and energy not just so that they can reopen but also so that they can make sure that staff and patrons alike are in the safest position that they can be.”
Dr. Ghaly concluded his response by saying, “But broader than that, really looking at the impact that the sector of theme parks really has on broader communities, on the surrounding neighborhoods and the workplaces and the industry around, and how this isn’t just about one piece, it’s about the entire community and having dialogue with not just those operators but others who both have a stake in what happens with this guidance but also have a responsibility to reduce the risk for so many people from California who might visit a theme park in the future.”
We will continue to closely monitor the situation in California when it comes to theme park guidelines and Orange County’s advancement in the state’s tiered system.
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Did you have travel plans to the Disneyland Resort in 2020 that have been impacted by the closures? Let us know in the comments.