ALAMEDA COUNTY, CA — Alameda County will return Tuesday into the most-restrictive tier of California's COVID-19 risk system.
Alameda County was previously in the orange "moderate risk" tier of California's four-tiered color-coded COVID-19 risk system. But as Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed Monday the need to pull "an emergency brake" amid a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases, Alameda County and nearly 30 other counties were moved back into the purple tier, which indicates widespread risk.
“We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said Monday in a news release. “California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet –faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer. The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes."
Alameda County is now seeing about 9 new COVID-19 cases per day, per 100,000 residents, according to state data. The purple tier standard is 7 cases per day, per 100,000 residents. Case rate data lags by a week.
The county's COVID-19 testing positivity rate, however, is 2.5% — below the purple tier standard of 8%.
Last week, Alameda County public health officials announced plans to pause the reopening of additional activities as hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases rose. As Alameda County prepares to transition into the purple tier, many indoor business operations deemed non-essential must further close or scale back operations.
Counties may enact stricter restrictions, but here's what the state allows under the purple tier, with safety modifications:
Outdoor gatherings only; up to three households
Outdoor dining only
Outdoor playgrounds/recreational facilities
Indoor hair salons/barbershops
Indoor retail; 25% capacity
Outdoor gyms/fitness centers
Outdoor worship services
Indoor shopping malls; 25% capacity, closed common areas and food courts
Indoor personal care services
Outdoor movie theaters
Outdoor museums, zoos, aquariums
Bars, breweries and distilleries that do not sell food must remain closed. People who work in offices should instead work remotely, according to state guidelines.
Businesses previously allowed to operate must confirm to purple tier standards by 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, the county said in a statement.
See the full state guidelines for each tier here.
Schools that have already reopened may continue to do so, but no more schools may reopen for in-person instruction as of Wednesday, the county said. Students may still meet in small cohorts for limited instruction.
"We [Alameda County] have moved cautiously with our reopening and continued seeking opportunities to keep activities open once they were permitted," the public health department said in the statement. "While this approach has served us well, the most recent wave of new infections in Alameda County and across the state appear to be growing even faster than what we experienced in the summer."
County public health officials have called on residents to stay home when sick, wear masks, maintain six feet from others not in your household, frequently wash hands, get a flu shot and review guidelines on Thanksgiving and holiday travel.
Last week, the state issued a travel advisory. All visitors to California and Californians returning to their home state are asked to quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival in the Golden State. The advisory only applies to recreational travelers, not those who are traveling for work, medical, study or other essential purposes.
Public health officials expect cases to continue to climb as the weather cools and holidays loom.
"We're moving from a marathon to a sprint," Newsom said.
There have been 25,872 COVID-19 cases reported in Alameda County as of Monday afternoon, county data show. There have been 490 deaths linked to the coronavirus.
Here's the COVID-19 case count by community:
Castro Valley: 687
Eden area: 1,672
San Leandro: 1,483
Union City: 1,013
Other unincorporated area: 42
Get more detailed information on the county's COVID-19 statistics here or by using the widget below (use the scroll on the right):