No one wants a return to our pandemic past—especially when it comes to the color purple.
But with the Delta version continuing to increase COVID rates across California, concerns are mounting just a month after the state imposed its color-coded restrictions on businesses, schools and social gatherings.
And now, a Bay Area newsgroup analysis from earlier this week of how rising COVID rates has driven a dozen counties — including Los Angeles, Alameda and Contra Costa — into the state’s now-extinct, but most-restrictive purple tier debate. ruling over. Is it time for public health officials to act?
“There’s been talk at the salon last week, so we’re just going to see and wait and see how it plays out,” said Annie Miller, 36, who owns Salon 77 West in Danville. lockdown.
A peek inside places like Saloon 77 West or Crumbs Breakfast, Lunch & Bar will rarely deceive that COVID-19 is seriously on the march again in Contra Costa County. Patrons packed inside those popular Danville institutions this week with some face masks that local health officials now say everyone indoors should be donning.
“Since the masks have taken off, we have no issues, no issues,” Miller said of her salon. “So we have been very lucky. But we have also been very careful in cleaning, sanitizing. It has not been a problem. We are at the mercy of numbers and data.”
And the numbers are not good. Across the state, the 7-day average daily case rate per 100,000 people rose from 2 in early June to 10.2 as of Sunday – a rate that had counties eligible for the purple tier and higher than at the beginning of March. is, although still down to 105 at the beginning of January.
“This is dangerous,” Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, whose district spans western Alameda and Contra Costa counties, tweeted Tuesday after seeing analysis that her rates qualify her for the purple level. “It’s time we do something uncomfortable: Make vaccinations mandatory – at schools, gyms, hospitals, workplaces.”
It’s worrisome: CA’s new COVID surge would have brought many counties back to the most restrictive levels under our reopening blueprint.
It’s time to do something uncomfortable: make vaccinations mandatory in schools, gyms, hospitals, workplaces, etc.https://t.co/a3SsbzsZdS
— Buffy Wicks (@buffywix) 20 July 2021
Nationally, many health experts have called on the federal government to change its guidance that vaccinated people are not required to wear masks again indoors.
But talk of a vaccine passport has disappeared in the months since vaccination has become widely available and infection rates have started to drop as a result. And with Governor Gavin Newsom facing a recall election in September, driven largely by critics of his handling of the pandemic, there is little appetite for renewed statewide restrictions on businesses and schools.
“We are very careful about the delta version,” Newsom said on Wednesday, calling statewide mask orders or vaccine passports unnecessary. “The most important thing we can do to leave this pandemic behind is to get vaccinated.”
That’s why state and local health officials continue to focus their efforts on urging more people to get the shot, even though California, and especially the Bay Area, already has high vaccination rates, and new vaccinations are limited to six weeks. will not be fully immunized.
“We are not planning additional restrictions at this time,” Contra Costa County Health Service said in a statement Tuesday. “Despite rising case rates, rates of serious illness and hospitalization among fully vaccinated individuals remain low. Since most of our seniors are fully vaccinated, we expect this boom to have less impact on our hospitals, nursing homes and healthcare delivery systems.
The 7-day average daily number of COVID-19 patients at Contra Costa County hospitals has more than doubled since June 15, from 23 to 56 as of Monday — about the same rate the county reported as of March. The purple level was left in the middle. Although it is well below the peak of 277 in early January.
Like many urban coastal areas, Contra Costa boasts one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, with three out of four residents 12 and older fully immunized and four out of five partially immunized.
But infections are increasing in both groups. Contra Costa, one of the few counties to report infection rates based on vaccination status, reported that it had a 7-day average daily case rate of 6.5 per 100,000 vaccinated and 0.9 vaccinated as of June 15. . As of 13 July, the most recent data available, the rate had risen to 21.9 among those who were not vaccinated and 3.3 among those who were vaccinated. However, this rate is well below the peak of 748.6 in early January.
Those rising case rates prompted health officials in Contra Costa and most other Bay Area counties and others across the state to recommend that everyone return to indoor public places wearing masks, regardless of COVID-19. Whether vaccinated against -19 or not. Los Angeles County made the order on Saturday.
In San Francisco, bar owners are discussing whether proof of vaccination is needed to avoid a worsening outbreak, which could lead to the return of closure orders.
“We are a group that has suffered a lot over the past 16 months,” said Ben Bleiman, founder of the SF Bar Owner Alliance, which owns a number of pubs in the city, and the growing number of cases among non-vaccinated people, including employees and their families. Health threatening. Return to families and bar closures. “We’re tired of it.”
California’s return to the days of color-coded rules will mean purple counties will be forced to close bars and amusement parks, restaurants will be limited to outdoor dining and takeout, gyms, theaters, museums and wineries will only operate outside and shops will be limited to a quarter of their capacity.
It’s also hard to fathom the return of purple inside Crumbs, where only one diner wore a mask when Tuesday was filled with a hungry lunch crowd. Owner Amy Sidhom said “we’re not too worried yet” about more restrictions coming. But the ghost of a return to no indoor dining, which the restaurant endured for more than six months to prevent the virus from spreading, is troubling.
“Many had to let go, because takeout is about 10%, 15% of our business, so we couldn’t support the payroll of the full business,” Sidhom said. “But thankfully everyone is back and doing well, and we hope it stays that way.”
Tony Lukaszewski, 68, of Danville is not worried about the virus. They have vaccinated, and they don’t think the community is ready to go back on pandemic restrictions.
“This community is already back to normal,” he said. “They were all closed for a long time and they are free.”