CONTRA COSTA COUNTY—It was supposed to be the looming Thanksgiving holiday that officials were dreading might cause a spike in coronavirus cases.
Instead, the surge that many feared arrived early and now Contra Costa County health officials reimposed restrictions that it had loosened three weeks ago.
The adjusted average daily number of new COVID-19 cases in Contra Costa has doubled in recent weeks, rising from 4.3 per 100,000 population on Oct. 16 to 9.2 on Nov. 16.
The current case level deemed “widespread” according to the California Blue Print Data Chart, has now placed the county back in the Purple Tier and prompted many non-essential indoor businesses to close again.
The average daily percentage of COVID-19 tests that return positive in the county has also increased sharply, from 1.9 percent for the same period.
Wear a mask
“The most simple, effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to wear a face covering whenever you leave home or are around people who do not live with you,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, county health officer.
“This may also be a time to consider a remote holiday gathering. We all want to see each other, but it is important to carefully consider the risks before meeting in person with our loved ones,” he added.
Contra Costa, previously in the Red Tier after moving from the Orange Tier, added additional safety requirements beyond what the state had mandated, including a moratorium on indoor dining and operation of indoor gyms and fitness centers.
The state today changed its guidelines to expedite movement of counties into more restrictive tiers in response to the growing public health crisis.
Changes caused by the state’s action today will include:
- Social gatherings involving people from different households are permitted outdoors only, with a maximum of three households and 25 people, preferably for less than two hours.
- K-12 schools may not reopen for in-person instruction unless they have already begun to do so.
- Worship services and cultural ceremonies must now be held outdoors only.
- Higher education institutions must move indoor lectures and student gatherings outdoors only.
- Movie theaters may operate outdoors only.
- Museums and exhibit spaces may open outdoors only.
If the current actions stimulate the desired public response and three criteria are met for two consecutive weeks, the county will move to the next tier. Here are the criteria:
- Cases: Fewer than four new cases per 100,000 residents
- Positivity Rate: Less than 5 percent of tests countywide are positive
- Equity Metric: Less than 5.2 percent of tests for residents of the lowest quartile of the Health Places Index census are positive.