Small outdoor parties are back with restrictions, Fresno County health official says

New guidelines that allow for small outdoor gatherings came Friday as Fresno County teeters on the edge of falling back into the most restrictive tier under state coronavirus orders.

Health officials said outdoor gatherings should be kept to no more than three households, though there is no specific guidelines for the number of people, according to Rais Vohra, the Fresno County interim health officer.

Until Friday, gatherings had been restricted going back to March.

The new guidelines say a gathering should be kept to no longer than two hours while party-goers maintain social distance from the members of other households and wear masks, Vohra said.

Singing, chanting or other actions that could create droplets are prohibited. Musical instruments are allowed, but wind instruments are discouraged, Vohra said.

“Reality being what it is, we understand outdoor gatherings are happening,” Vohra said. “I think the state is doing a very nice job in creating an outdoor gathering guidance for private gatherings.”

Red to purple

Fresno County has been under the red tier in the state’s color-coded system for re-opening for about two weeks, but metrics show a likelihood the county will backslide into the most restrictive tier — purple.

Fresno’s COVID-19 case rate rose to 7.2 cases per 100,000 residents, above the threshold of seven cases, officials said on Tuesday.

So what are the chances the county goes to purple?

“I think they’re high. I’m very concerned,” Vohra said. “It feels like a tightrope we’re walking.”

Health officials said Tuesday the case rate was actually adjusted upward by the state because the county’s testing volume came in below the statewide average. Officials said they have reached out to health care providers to try to drive up the volume of testing.

Vohra said residents should not get discouraged if the county goes back to purple. Rather, they should be resolved to follow health guidelines to get back to red.

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