Contra Costa County public health officials announced Wednesday that the county would be ratcheting back its rules on some higher risk business activities, decreasing capacity for restaurants and movie theaters as it faces a possible move back to "Red" tier status next week.
"With data from the past week showing a marked increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Contra Costa County, health officials are taking steps to protect the community with modest changes to local health orders," the county said in a statement.
The latest order by county Health Officer Chris Farnitano shuts down any outdoor bars that may have opened under looser restrictions in recent weeks — except those where sit-down meals were available — and it reduces restaurants' indoor seating capacity to 25% or 100 people, down from 50% or 200 people as it had recently been. The order also reduces capacity for places of worship and movie theaters, and shuts down all cardrooms.
Contra Costa County had moved from the "Red" to the "Orange" tier in the state's reopening metrics just a week ago, on October 27. But much as San Francisco officials announced a pause in further reopening late last week due to rising case numbers, Farnitano is quickly moving to limit business activities ahead of another potential spike.
As of Monday, Contra Costa County had 58 confirmed and suspected COVID cases in hospitals, up from 38 just a week earlier — a 52% jump in seven days.
As of Wednesday, the county had 109 new cases, for a cumulative total of 19,517. The number of daily new cases is not far afield of numbers that the county was seeing in recent weeks, however the jump in hospitalizations and the rising rate of daily cases per 100,000 residents (now at 6) may be of the most concern. A rate of over 4 new cases per 100,000 residents would qualify the county to move back to the "Red" tier.
According to the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy, six of the Bay Area's nine counties are now in the second-least restrictive "Orange" tier, with Solano County in the "Red" and Sonoma in the "Purple" or most restrictive tier. San Francisco is the only county to have moved into the "Yellow" or least restrictive tier, and the only major city in the state to do so.
Photo via the county website