Contra Costa gets green light to enter Red Tier. What's next?

Contra Costa gets green light to enter Red Tier. What’s next?

Contra Costa gets green light to enter Red Tier. What's next?
Skipolini’s Restaurant in Concord put out this sign when the county opened up, briefly, last fall. Now that we are back to the Red Tier, restaurants can begin indoor service again. (Pete Cruz photo)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (March 12, 2021) — A few weeks ago, Contra Costa experienced a post-holiday peak in COVID-19 spread. Now, COVID-19 spread has slowed enough to allow some business and community activities to resume in the County for the first time since November.

The average daily number of new cases in Contra Costa has fallen enough that California today moved the County from the purple tier to the red tier of its Blueprint for a Safer Economy, effective Sunday, March 14.

Contra Costa was 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.

Moving in the right direction

“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 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.

What can open now?

In early January, nearly 50 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population were identified every day in Contra Costa. This was 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. They do not need to submit a safety plan to Contra Costa Health Services.

For details and sector-specific health guidance, visit

Contra Costa also updated its County health orders so they do not create additional restrictions to business or community activities.

Contra Costa met other state criteria for returning to the red tier weeks ago. 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.

For Contra Costa data and COVID-19 health information, visit