ALAMEDA COUNTY (KPIX/CBS SF) — Health officials in Alameda County announced Monday afternoon that they would be pausing the county’s current reopening plans due to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Alameda County health officials said they would be extending their timeline for phased reopening and pulling back a request for the Board of Supervisors to support the county’s planned variance attestation on June 30.
According to the statement issued by health officials, Alameda County’s case rate per 100,000 people has risen from 63.2 to 71.1 over the past week. That rate increase coupled with a surge in local cases confirmed in communities of color and the outbreak at San Quentin State Prison have led health officials to slow the planned reopening of businesses.
“We recognize the multifaceted challenges presented by a slow reopening and are grateful for the sustained effort and sacrifices made by our residents and businesses,” the statement released by health officials read. “As the pandemic evolves, we will need to remain flexible and nimble in our response.”
Health officials say it’s not just about the large increase in cases, it’s also the hospitalizations.
“We’re concerned about that, that might represent an increase in actual disease and an increase in severe diseases in Alameda County,” said Dr. Nicholas Moss, Director of Disease Control and Prevention with the Alameda County Public Health Department.
Dr. Moss says part of the increase in hospitalizations is because Alameda County has accepted patients from the outbreak going on at San Quentin prison. This county is also home to many staff members who work at the prison.
But health officials warn the outbreak at San Quentin is not to blame for all of the increases of coronavirus cases. In Alameda County, a large number of cases are popping up in the central part of the county along the I-880 corridor. And just like its neighbors in Contra Costa County, it’s affecting a certain segment of the population.
“What we are finding is it’s younger people, but it’s also specific to our historically marginalized communities, specifically Latino communities,” said Kim McCarl, Contra Costa Health Services Communications Officer.
Both Alameda and Contra Costa Counties say expect to wait roughly a month until the next round of openings begin. For now, they don’t expect to have to tighten restrictions again if residents can help do what they’ve already done before.
“What our health officer is looking for is 7 days of flat numbers so let’s go back to flattening that curve,” said McCarl.
Both counties have done extensive contact tracing. They say at this point, there’s little evidence to show that protests had a significant impact in the rise in cases.
Earlier Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom said the state is pausing the reopening “dimmer switch” in a number of counties facing alarming coronavirus spikes, as well as increasing enforcement of the state’s health orders.
On Sunday, Newsom ordered a number of counties to close down bars and recommended to other counties, including Contra Costa and Santa Clara, to not reopen bars.