On Sunday, Contra Costa County and 12 others will move into the red tier according to a release issued Friday by the California Department of Public Health.
According to Contra Costa County, they say they were poised to enter red tier on Wednesday next week, but will transition a few days earlier after the state met a goal of administering 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in high-risk, economically disadvantaged communities on Friday. That triggered a relaxation of the blueprint’s requirements.
“It is encouraging to see our data moving in the right direction, and it’s a testament to the hard work Contra Costa residents have put in to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County’s health officer. “But it is important that we make healthy choices to keep up our momentum. This pandemic is not over yet.”
Contra Costa has more tools to protect against COVID-19 than it did last fall, including safe, effective vaccine. So far more than 250,000 county residents have received a dose – about one quarter of the population.
More groups of Californians will become eligible for vaccine on Monday, March 15, including public transit workers, people in congregate living situations and people who have health conditions that put them at high risk of serious illness from a COVID-19 infection. Visit covid19.ca.gov for more information.
Vaccine, along with physical distancing, face coverings, avoiding close contact with people who are not housemates, hand hygiene and regular testing are all healthy choices that protect against COVID-19 and that have helped reduce transmission of the virus since January.
In early January, nearly 50 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population were identified every day in Contra Costa, during the worst part of the most recent surge. On Friday, the county’s adjusted per-capita case rate was 6.7, qualifying for reduced state health order restrictions, including:
- Restaurants, gyms, dance studios and museums may resume indoor operation, following state health guidelines.
- Indoor retail stores and shopping malls may increase their maximum occupancy and grocery stores may operate at fully capacity.
- Small private gatherings may be held indoors, following state health guidance.
- Colleges and other higher education institutions may reopen indoor lectures, following state health guidance.
- Elementary and secondary schools can reopen for in-person learning without submitting a safety plan to Contra Costa Health Services.
Contra Costa met other state criteria for returning to the red tier weeks ago, with the average daily percentage of COVID-19 tests that return positive in the county below 8 percent (2.4 percent on Friday). The average daily percentage of positive tests in disproportionately impacted neighborhoods identified through the state’s health equity metric was 4.3 percent.
Here is the release:
Two Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Delivered to California’s Hardest-Hit Communities, Prompting Update of State’s Reopening Plan
SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today announced that 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to Californians in some of the state’s hardest-hit communities, increasing immunity where the state’s transmission rates and disease burden have been the highest during the pandemic. With this equity metric met, and because vaccines slow the spread of disease and serious illness, the previously announced update to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy to account for progress with vaccine administration goes into effect.
After reassessment using new thresholds, 13 counties will move to a less restrictive tier, from Purple (widespread) to Red (substantial): Amador, Colusa, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Mendocino, Mono, Orange, Placer, San Benito, San Bernardino, Siskiyou, Sonoma and Tuolumne. Twenty-one counties will remain in the Purple (widespread) Tier, 33 will be in the Red (substantial) Tier, three remain in the Orange (moderate) Tier and one remains in the Yellow (minimal) Tier. These changes will take effect on Sunday, March 14.
On Tuesday, we also expect Sacramento, San Diego and 11 additional counties (Kings, Lake, Monterey, Riverside, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Sutter, Tehama, Tulare, Ventura and Yuba) to shift from Purple to Red based on current data and projections. These tier adjustments will be assigned on Tuesday and take effect on Wednesday. There is potential for additional counties to move tiers next week based on next week’s Blueprint tier assessment and assignment. Going forward, the Purple Tier threshold is greater than 10 cases per 100,000 people.
“California is doubling down on its mission to keep equity a top priority as we continue to get COVID-19 doses into the arms of all Californians as safely and quickly as possible,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency. “Focusing on the individuals who have been hardest hit by this pandemic is the right thing to do and also ensures we are having the greatest impact in reducing transmission, protecting our health care delivery system and saving lives.”
On March 4, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state had set aside 40 percent of vaccine doses for the hardest-hit communities and established an equity metric to increase vaccinations in those communities. Doing so recognizes that the pandemic did not affect California communities equally. Forty percent of COVID cases and deaths have occurred in the lowest quartile of the Healthy Places Index (HPI), which provides overall scores and data that predict life expectancy and compares community conditions that shape health across the state.
“While we have reached a milestone today, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to help ensure we can put an end to this pandemic,” said Tomás Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer. “We must all do our part by getting vaccinated as soon as it’s our turn and continue to wear masks and practice physical distancing to keep our communities safe.”
The Blueprint will be updated again when 4 million doses have been administered in the vaccine equity quartile.