Quick Take:

Santa Cruz just missed the requirement for moving into the state’s least restrictive tier of COVID-19 regulations. A small increase in cases has set the county back at least two weeks from a move from the current orange tier to the yellow tier, state health officials said Tuesday.

After meeting the criteria to move to the state’s least restrictive set of COVID-19 restrictions last week, a small increase in cases has set Santa Cruz County back for at least two weeks.

The county met the criteria for the least restrictive yellow tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework last week, and if the case counts and positivity rates had stayed constant, the county would have advanced to that tier in the framework this week.

Instead, the case rate increased slightly, from 1.4 to 2.1 cases per 100,000 people. The cutoff for the yellow tier is 2.0 cases per 100,000, meaning Santa Cruz missed the threshold by just 0.1.

This slight uptick, which corresponds to the absolute number of cases reported increasing from 46 to 61, means Santa Cruz will be stuck in the orange tier for at least two more weeks, as a county is required to meet the criteria of a less restrictive tier for two weeks before advancing.

Only one county, Mendocino, moved to the yellow tier this week, joining three other counties: Alpine, Lassen, and Sierra.

All Bay Area counties, and the majority of the state, are in the orange tier. Statewide, the tier framework is set to expire on June 15, if certain vaccination and hospital capacity conditions are met.

Follow Mallory Pickett on: Twitter. Mallory brings deep expertise in environmental issues to Lookout, as well as national reporting experience that she will now apply in her hometown of Santa Cruz. She...