SFGATE: Solano County could be bumped back to purple tier

This Bay Area county could be bumped back to the purple tier

SFGATE, by Amy Graff, April 2, 2021
@kurteek found twin bridges by Carquinez Bridge.
@kurteek found twin bridges by Carquinez Bridge. Instagram / kurteek

Public health officials in Solano County are concerned about increasing COVID-19 cases and are warning that the county could move back from the red tier to the most restrictive purple tier, forcing many businesses to close indoor operations.

“Too early to call it a surge now but that doesn’t mean it’s not the beginning of a surge only time will tell,” Bela Matyas, the county’s health officer told KRON. ““We are now starting to get uncomfortably close to the level of the disease reported each day that would put us back in purple.”

More than half of the Bay Area counties — including Alameda, Marin, San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo — have already moved out of the red tier into the orange tier.  Solano County has been in the red for three weeks.

“No, we’re not moving into orange this week,” Solano County Public Health Administrator Jayleen Richards told the Vallejo Times Herald. “Last week we started to see some data not trending upwards. We could actually go from the red tier back to purple if we don’t start following all the guidelines. We’re not there yet, but I’m worried about the slight increase of positive cases.”

If Solano were to fall back into the purple tier, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, and places of worship would no longer be able to host people indoors. Personal services and retail would be allowed to continue operating indoors.

With the Easter holiday weekend ahead, Maytas encouraged residents to wear their masks and socially distance.

Matyas told KCBS Radio that the bulk of new cases in the county are appearing in younger people who aren’t eligible for the vaccine.

Solano County opened up eligibility to individuals 50 and over last month ahead of the state guidelines. California broadened eligibility to those 50 and over on April 1 and will expand to 16 and over on April 15.

The state’s COVID dashboard showed Friday morning that Solano’s adjusted case rate was 5.4 new cases per 100,000 people, the 7-day positivity rate was 1.9% and the health equity quartile was 2.3%.

The county’s dashboard showed different numbers with the 7-day positivity rate at 6.6%.

“We’re doing really well in the equity rate measure, but we’re not quite there in other categories,” Richards told the Times Herald. “I want to have businesses reopen and be operating just as much as anyone, but we must keep doing things like masking and keeping a safe distance apart to to keep the elderly and vulnerable healthy.”

The state’s color-coded reopening framework assigns a tier to each county, dictating which business sectors and activities can operate. The state announces new tier assignments on Tuesday, and on Wednesday counties can move forward with reopenings.

The state’s system sorts counties into four tiers — “purple” (widespread), “red” (substantial), “orange” (moderate) or “yellow” (minimal) — that measure the spread of COVID-19 and dictate what types of businesses and activities are allowed to open.

A county’s tier assignment is based on three metrics: the adjusted case rate (number of new cases per 100,000 residents, adjusted based on testing volume); the positivity rate (percentage of people who test positive for the virus of all individuals who are tested); a health equity metric; and the number of vaccines administered.

Counties in the purple category are reporting more than 10 new daily cases per 100,000 residents and have positivity rates above 8%. For a county to move into the red tier, it must report an average of four to 10 daily cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity of 5% to 8% for 14 consecutive days. The orange tier requires one to 3.9 cases per 100,000 and a test positivity of 2% to 4.9%, and the yellow less than one case per 100,000 and lower than 2% positivity.

Solano County didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.