Merced and Madera Counties remain in the red tier, businesses hopeful for change soon

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The majority of counties across the state are now in the orange tier, meaning a moderate rate of spread of COVID-19.

It also means fewer restrictions on businesses.

Across the state, four more counties across the state moved to less restrictive tiers on Tuesday.

In the Central Valley, nothing changed, including in Merced County and Madera County.

They both remain in the red tier.

Businesses like restaurants and gyms are hoping that will change soon.

Beatriz Herrera is a server and bartender at Cazadores Bar and Grill in Madera. The restaurant started seating customers indoors when the county moved to the red tier about a month ago.

"We were very excited because we've been ready and waiting to have more people inside," said Herrera.

Since then, as other counties saw restrictions ease, Madera and Merced have stayed the same, limiting indoor capacity to just 25%.

Across the street at Fit Republic in Madera, the gym can open, but only at 10 percent capacity and under strict guidelines.

"We have more members who would like to use the service than we're allowed to do," said Christopher Montoya, the president of Thrive Business Development. The company owns 12 Fit Republic locations across the state.

Merced and Madera Counties are the only two counties across the Central Valley that remain in the red tier.

Both have not met and stayed under the number of new COVID cases per day.

There have to be less than six new cases per 100,000 people.

Madera County is at 6.3, while Merced County is at 8.

Madera County health officials say their small population size makes their data more volatile.

"It's difficult for us to - with very small numbers - to always consistently, two weeks in a row hit that data," said Sara Bosse the Health Director at Madera County Public Health Department.

To help move to the orange tier, the Madera County Public Health Department is encouraging residents to get vaccinated.

They're also asking people to get tested for COVID-19.

The health department is hosting four to six pop-up COVID testing events per week.

They're also offering anyone who gets tested at one of their events a $5 gift card to a local establishment.

"Madera County is really close to reaching orange tier data," said Bosse.

Local businesses are hanging on as best they can and are remaining optimistic that, soon, restrictions will loosen up.

"I'm hoping, I'm hoping we're quickly moving to the orange," said Montoya.

Health officials remind people who live in the county to do their part by getting vaccinated and getting tested.

They remind people, if you're not feeling good, stay home from work. Also, if someone you're living with is showing symptoms of COVID-19, you should also stay home to stop the spread.
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