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Merced County officials are concerned about falling back to the most restrictive tier on California’s COVID-19 roadmap.

So all residents are being urged to get tested frequently.

“We are asking all County residents to assist by getting tested every 14 days if possible. Increasing our county’s surveillance testing will allow us to stay on the path to reopening and move through the tiers more rapidly,” said Rodrigo Espinoza, chair of the Merced County Board of Supervisors.

“We are asking all County residents to assist by getting tested every 14 days if possible. Increasing our county’s surveillance testing will allow us to stay on the path to reopening and move through the tiers more rapidly.”Rodrigo Espinoza,  Merced County Board of Supervisors chair

To remain in this tier and continue to advance along the state’s reopening blueprint, the County’s COVID-19 metrics must remain stable or improve, the county said in a news release.

“Increasing our COVID-19 testing rates is the main way to assist with lowering the overall case rate, thereby preventing the County from reverting back to the Purple Tier,” the release said.

CBS8 in San Diego reports that under the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy formula, counties can receive a “credit,” for conducting more testing than the state average. The state also penalizes counties that fall below the state’s median testing level by raising their case rate.

Reverting back to the purple tier means that some businesses and activities for county residents will face additional restrictions again.  This would include the closure of inside dining and many other indoor services that were recently allowed to reopen.

County’s Testing Rate Has Declined While Infection Rate Has Risen

According to county health officials, Merced County has begun to see a higher case rate of COVID-19 infections while the number of people getting tested has declined.

The county is currently experiencing a case rate of 7.4, which is above the state’s case threshold of 7.0 to remain in the red tier.

Merced County Testing Sites

The state is funding two no-cost testing sites in Merced County:

Both sites bill insurance companies directly for the cost of the test. For the uninsured, the cost is covered by the state. Officials are warning that the sites could be eliminated if public usage does not increase.

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