Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties come close to advancing, but miss the cutVallejo Times-Herald, By Nico Savidge & Matt O’Donnell, April 20, 2021
Several Bay Area counties learned Tuesday that they will stay put in the orange tier of California’s system of pandemic restrictions for at least the next two weeks, as the least-restrictive reopening level remains elusive.
Marin County was eligible to advance this week to the yellow tier, which indicates “minimal” coronavirus spread, and would have been the first in the Bay Area to do so this year. But a slight uptick in new cases dashed those hopes.
Data collected by the state that is used to determine tier assignments showed none of the Bay Area’s nine counties — where all are in the orange tier except for Solano County, which is in red — met the criteria to advance Tuesday.
“Solano County will remain in red tier status and we expect to stay in this tier for the near future,” said Jayleen Richards, the public health administrator for Solano County Health & Social Services. “Solano Public Health would like to move to a less restrictive tier, but data is not indicating that we will move to a less restrictive tier soon.”
For the state of California, that doesn’t mean coronavirus is surging again; no county is on pace to move backward into a more-restrictive tier. Instead, the dramatic decline in cases that has unfolded since the state’s devastating winter surge has more or less plateaued for the past month.
The yellow stage allows bars that don’t offer food service to start seating customers indoors at up to 25% capacity, and would bump up capacity limits at other businesses such as bowling alleys, wineries and museums. Outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people are permitted in the tier.
To reach it, counties must have a test positivity rate of less than 2% and report a testing-adjusted rate of less than 2 new cases per 100,000 residents per day.
On Tuesday, state officials reported San Mateo County had a case rate of 2.0, while San Francisco’s stood at 2.2 — the second straight week both counties barely missed out on the yellow tier. Under California’s rules, counties must meet the criteria for a less-restrictive stage for two straight weeks before advancing.
State officials are planning to phase out the four-level reopening plan known as the Blueprint for a Safer Economy in mid-June, when Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he will lift most pandemic restrictions.
Only Lassen, Sierra and Alpine counties, home to less than 35,000 combined residents, have reached the yellow tier.