ALAMEDA COUNTY, CA — More restrictions might melt away in the coming weeks, as officials project that the county will enter the orange tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safe Economy by March 31.
Alameda County entered the red tier March 10.
In a March 12 webinar sponsored by the Tri-Valley Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Nicholas Moss, the county’s public health director, offered insight.
The county must be in the red zone for a total of three weeks to move up to the orange zone. The state has built the delay into the system for safety, he said.
Signs of the county’s change to red last week were immediate. Diners could eat indoors, instead of merely picking up takeout food or eating outdoors. Seniors, who are at greater risk of succumbing to COVID-19, are not encouraged to dine indoors, said Moss.
Gone are the outdoor tents in parking lots for barbershops, beauty salons and dog grooming establishments. They all moved indoors back to their normal locations. Their operators and customers still must wear masks and keep at least 6 feet apart.
School districts were permitted to open transitional kindergarten through fifth grade. Some districts could open all the way to 12th grade for in-person attendance, if they have an approved plan from the Alameda County Office of Education. The Pleasanton Unified School District was the first in the county to open all the way to 12th grade, because of the equipment it had ordered ahead of time. It also had a signed Memo of Understanding (MOU) with its teachers that they had negotiated a valid agreement to enable opening.
Asked whether schools will have enough safe distance between students, Moss said that if the desired 6-foot distance is not feasible in some circumstances, it is all right to cut back to 4 feet.
“It’s important for students to be in school,” he said.
The switch to red from the most restrictive purple tier for seven counties in the Bay Area was enabled by the rollout of 2 million vaccines.
Moss showed the health department’s dashboard of the county, which tracks the number of new cases and deaths. The city by city updates showed Pleasanton in the lead for vaccinations, followed by Livermore. In third place was Dublin, “which has some work to do,” said Moss.
Moss reported tracking showed that the Latino community was lagging behind in securing vaccinations. The county wants to see that elevated.
The state provides a portable vaccination clinic that visits communities, but Moss explained that Livermore is too far from population centers to receive these services. At a local level, agencies are working to overcome the problem. The Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District and the Livermore Area Recreation and Parks District are working with Walgreen’s to set up vaccination clinics in the area.
Moss also commented on vaccines. He said the one-shot dosage from Johnson & Johnson performed well in tests, with no deaths recorded.