Alameda County Health Department

Alameda County will wait at least two more weeks before deciding whether to allow additional sectors of the economy to reopen, although the county has moved into a lower-risk category under California’s four-tier, color-coded Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

The Alameda County Public Health Department announced Monday that the latest COVID-19 data moves the county from the “widespread” highest-risk Purple Tier into the lower-risk “substantial” Red Tier, which would allow for additional sectors of the economy to open with restrictions.

However, state guidelines also allow counties to move more cautiously, which Alameda has decided to do.

In a news release, the county Public Health Department said, “As with all other re-openings, it will be important for Alameda County to take a measured and phased approach to avoid dramatic increases in disease transmission and re-closures. As we did when the Blueprint for a Safer Economy was first announced, we are carefully examining the potential impact of activities that may be permitted to reopen or expand in the Red Tier.”

Counties are also allowed to open schools for in-person learning after two weeks in the Red Tier, which the Public Health Department said is a priority.

“While an immediate return of all Alameda County K-12 students and school staff could potentially increase transmission of COVID-19, the impact of distance learning on both students’ mental health and their ability to learn is clear,” according to the Public Health Department. “We know that educational inequities and the achievement gap are likely exacerbated by having children learning from home. We also know it is hardest for younger children to spend all day learning online.”

According to the news release, the county will monitor COVID-19 data for the next two weeks, through Oct. 6, “to ensure our metrics remain stable.” It will then “release a phased plan that balances increased risk of spread of COVID-19 from newly permitted activities alongside appropriate mitigation strategies that can be implemented.”

In the meantime, “Alameda County schools are being urged “to prioritize preparing for reopening and engaging parents and staff in the planning so they can be ready.”

California unveiled its Blueprint for a Safer Economy last month. In addition to purple and red, the next two tiers are orange (moderate) and yellow (minimal).