By Betty Yu

LIVERMORE (CBS SF) — Alameda County was added to the state’s COVID-19 watchlist Sunday in the wake of rising new cases of the virus among local residents.

If those numbers don’t improve after the next three days, state officials will begin reimposing COVID-19 business restrictions. Alameda, which has had the largest number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Bay Area, already has been slow to rollback those restrictions.

“Definitely observing in the community people outside are kind of just walking around not wearing masks, so I definitely understand why we’re on a watch list. But I know in here, we’ve been keeping everything as safe as possible,” said Hostess at Strizzi’s Restaurant Isabella Montanaro.

The county says more cases as a result of more testing, and people not wearing masks and social distancing were contributing factors.

Alameda County public health officials said that although it reopened more slowly, the increase in cases has been accelerated by reopening across the Bay Area and the state, as residents move between county lines.

“I see most people compliant, but I just read about it and see it through social media that people are not complying so I’m really not surprised,” said Pauline Tenorio of Livermore.

Twelve states this past week recorded positivity rates higher than 10%. Seven – including California – set or tied records for average daily deaths.

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams defended guidance he and federal health officials gave earlier in the pandemic against face coverings.

“It’s important for people to understand that once upon a time, we prescribed cigarettes for asthmatics and leeches and cocaine and heroin for people as medical treatments. When we learned better, we do better,” said Adams.

Earlier this month, counties on the state’s watch list were required to close indoor activities for establishments like restaurants and wineries.

Alameda County officials said they hope to continue outdoor dining while on the watch list, and plan to apply for state approval to do so.

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