SALINAS (CBS SF) – Monterey County could move into a less-restrictive coronavirus pandemic reopening tier as soon as Tuesday if state public health officials approve the county’s request to review a data discrepancy, county public health officer Dr. Edward Moreno said Thursday.

Moreno, speaking to the county’s Board of Supervisors, said the county’s rate of new cases per 100,000 sites at 7.9, above the threshold of seven cases that counties must meet to move out of the most restrictive “purple tier.”

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However, the county’s test positivity rate, at 3.9 percent, and its health equity positivity rate, which measures whether new cases are clustered in high-risk and impoverished areas, is hovering around 5 percent.

County public health officials, Moreno said, believe the health equity positivity rate is actually lower than 5 percent, which would allow the county to qualify for the less-restrictive “red tier.”

“Some laboratories … are collecting specimens and running tests on Monterey County residents but they’re not being reported to us in a way that the state would include them, so they’re not being included in the calculation,” Moreno said.

Adding those tests into the county’s data pool, Moreno said, would move its health equity metric below 5 percent.

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The county would have to meet the thresholds for the red tier for two consecutive weeks to move out of the purple tier, and Moreno said he hopes that if the state approved the county’s request for adjudication, it will apply that data to the most recent tier assignment update on Wednesday.

Should that happen, Moreno said, the county would be eligible to move out of the purple tier when tier assignments are updated again on Tuesday.

Moreno encouraged county residents to continue following state and local public health guidance to reduce the virus’ spread, which has remained higher than much of the greater Bay Area for weeks.

“Regardless of the state’s decision, we as a community need to follow these measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, which reduces our case rate and reduces our positivity rates overall,” he said.

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