Contra Costa County back to red tier due to rise in COVID-19 cases

Encouraging COVID-19 data prompts county health order update
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Rising COVID-19 cases has prompted Contra Costa County to return back to the more restrictive “red-tier” of the state’s reopening system, called the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

What that means: starting Friday, Nov. 13, additional restrictions will return to certain activities, although playgrounds can remain open and in-person school instruction can continue per state and local guidelines.

Health order changes in place starting Friday:

  • Retail stores that operate indoors must scale back their maximum occupancy to 50 percent or 100 people, whichever is lower.
  • Indoor shopping malls must reduce their occupancy and reduce the occupancy of food courts to 25 percent or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
  • Office workspaces must operate remotely.
  • Higher education institutions must keep indoor lectures and student gatherings to 25 percent occupancy or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
  • Gyms and fitness centers must scale back their indoor occupancies to 10 percent. 
  • Communal indoor pools must close. 
  • Indoor family entertainment centers, such as bowling alleys, must close their indoor operations. Amusement parks cannot operate.
  • Most live outdoor theatrical, musical or artistic performances are prohibited.

In addition, restrictions imposed last Friday remain in effect.

  • bars are no longer allowed to operate outdoors unless drinks are part of a meal
  • indoor dining, indoor movies and religious centers are back to a maximum 25 percent occupancy, or 100 people, whichever is fewer
  • cardrooms and satellite wagering sites, previously allowed 25 percent indoor capacity, can no longer operate indoors.

In late October, the county moved from the red tier, or substantial rate of spread, to the less-restrictive orange tier, or moderate rate of spread, of the state’s reopening system. That prompted an easing of restrictions, but since then officials say case data has shown a steady rise in cases.

“On Tuesday, the 7-day average, per-capita number of new cases (the ‘adjusted case rate’) was 5.3 in Contra Costa, higher than permitted for counties in the orange tier for a second consecutive week,” County officials said “That triggered the county’s shift back into the more restrictive red tier, effective today.”

On Nov. 8, 46 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Contra Costa was the highest one-day total since September, the County said.

Most cases are spreading within the home.

“The most critical way to protect against COVID-19 is to wear a face covering whenever you are near people who do not live with you, and whenever you go in a building that is not your home,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa health officer. “Face coverings help prevent people who do not know they are infected from spreading the virus to others. My mask protects you. Your mask protects me. Masks also provide some direct protection for the wearer.”