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El Dorado County urges safe Labor Day celebrations amid fears of coronavirus spike

Poised to head into the orange tier of California's framework for reopening businesses, one weekend could change everything for El Dorado County.

EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. — Public health officials in El Dorado County are urging residents to stay responsible during Labor Day weekend due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“The next two weeks and especially this holiday weekend will be critical in determining our future and, honestly, it’s up to you," said Dr. Nancy Williams, El Dorado County's public health officer. "It truly depends on the choices we all make now."

El Dorado County currently has 3.6 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 and a 3.6% positivity rate. The county is poised on the edge of moving into the "moderate" orange tier.

However, Labor Day weekend could change that, as health officials are preparing for a spike in coronavirus cases as a result of celebrations this weekend.

As with Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekend, Labor Day poses a risk of parties, picnics, and barbecues with people from different households. As health officials saw during those holidays, coronavirus case numbers could spike as a result of gathering and mixing. 

El Dorado County currently sits in the red tier of California's new framework for reopening businesses and resuming non-essential activities. Only seven other counties reside in this red tier, with 11 counties in either orange or yellow and the vast majority of California counties in the "widespread" purple tier. 

Being situated in the red tier, the county is allowed a few more activities than those in the purple tier, such as limited in-person dining and reopening of indoor museums and aquariums with 25% capacity. 

Going back to the purple tier would mean resetting those allowances and would result in a mandatory three-week waiting period before El Dorado County could move back into the red tier. 

In a statement, Dr. Williams urges people who plan to celebrate Labor Day weekend to do so safely. Some typical Labor Day traditions, Dr. Williams said—such as getaways to a cabin in the woods, a tent in the forest, a place by the lake, or hosting backyard barbecues—can be done so safely, as long as people are not gathering and are continuing to wear masks.

"So, this weekend, please avoid gatherings with people you don't live with," Dr. Williams said. "Wear a mask when you're out in public. Stay six feet or more away from people you don't live with. Choose to be outside rather than inside if it's not too hot. Wash your hands and sanitize high-touch areas."

WATCH ALSO: Flex Alert issued for California over Labor Day weekend, no blackouts expected