Yuba County will move into the state’s less restrictive red tier today, allowing more businesses to open and continue operations with certain modifications.

Tuesday’s tier announcement comes just two weeks after Sutter County was moved into the red tier. The move to red means Yuba County restaurants can resume indoor operations with modifications, along with movie theaters, gyms and fitness centers.

“It’s important to remember that the numbers the state looks at to qualify us for a tier are from two weeks prior (so for this week, they review data from March 14-20th),” said Bi-County Health Officer Dr. Phuong Luu.

During that time frame, Sutter County averaged 7.8 new daily cases per 100,000 people with a test positivity of 3.3 percent. Yuba County averaged 3.4 new daily cases per 100,000 people with a test positivity of 3.4 percent.

“Though our case counts and test positivity appear improved this week, if you look at the most recent case counts from the past several days, you will notice that the case counts have slightly increased to the teens, and this is concerning,” Luu said. “Our improvements in community transmission can be undone if we let go of our vigilance.”

In recent days, health officials have warned of the potential for another wave of cases, which has been seen in other states. Luu said viruses mutate, which is how they survive, and health officials have been seeing new strains of COVID-19, some of which are more contagious and more deadly. When numbers start to drop, people tend to let their guards down, she said, which can lead to increased community transmission – a pattern evident last summer and late fall.

“The vaccine rollout is still ongoing but we are not there yet,” Luu said. “Please remember, you aren’t fully protected until two weeks after you’ve received your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or two weeks after you’ve received your one-dose Johnson & Johnson.”

Registration for this weekend’s county-sponsored clinic will begin today (Wednesday) at 9 a.m. This week’s clinic will be the first Johnson & Johnson mass vaccination clinic, and health officials expect to open up 1,400 slots for Yuba-Sutter residents.

In addition to residents 50 years and older, those currently eligible include health care workers, those working in what is considered frontline positions (childcare and education, the food and ag industry, and emergency services); those 18 years and older with underlying medical conditions; and individuals living or working in high-risk congregate settings such as detention facilities, homeless shelters, or behavioral health facilities, along with public transit workers.

To register, go to yuba.org/vaccines or suttercounty.org/vaccine. Those without access to the internet can register for the vaccination clinic by calling 634-7496 (Yuba County) or 822-5985 (Sutter County).

“It’s important to keep wearing a mask in public, staying home when you’re sick, and avoiding large social gatherings for the time being,” Luu said. “And if you are able, get vaccinated. It’s the best way to keep yourself and our community safe.”

The number of COVID-19 cases in the Yuba-Sutter area increased by two on Tuesday. There are currently 113 open cases in the area.

Twelve people were hospitalized as of Tuesday evening, while 16 virus cases closed. To date, 142 local deaths have been attributed to COVID-19.

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