Illustration of one person coughing and another recoiling with words "physical distancing" between them

Contra Costa Moves to Purple Tier Amid COVID-19 Surge Along With Most of State

Illustration of one person coughing and another recoiling with words "physical distancing" between them

(Image by Kyle Mueller for United Nations via Unsplash)

By Edward Booth

Gov. Gavin Newsom pulled an “emergency brake” Monday, setting in place stronger COVID-19 restrictions across the state as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Contra Costa was among 28 counties moved Monday to the most restrictive “purple” tier in the state’s color-coded reopening system, indicating COVID-19 transmission is widespread. In total, 41 California counties are now in the purple tier, containing about 94.1% of the state’s population, according to a press release.

The “purple” designation calls for the closure of indoor dining, gyms, movie theaters and museums. Most other stores are advised to operate at 25% capacity.

The state’s move to enact greater restrictions comes in response to a doubling of daily COVID-19 cases in the last 10 days, the fastest increase California has seen since the beginning of the pandemic, Newsom said. The previous fastest rise occurred in mid June.

“Every age group, every demographic, racial, ethnic, in every part of the state, we are seeing case rates increase and positivity rates increase as well,” Newsom said. “We are seeing community spread broadly now, throughout the state of California.”

Last week, only 13 counties were in the purple tier, and Contra Costa fell to the red tier. In the Bay Area, only San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties remain in the red tier.

The changes are effective Tuesday. The reopening system itself, Newsom said, also changed. It now allows for counties to move back in reopening tiers after only one week, as opposed to two weeks. Some counties will move back multiple tiers if they see significant increases, he said. The state will assess counties, and potentially move them back, more than once a week. Changes that come about as a result of moving tiers also must be made within 24 hours, instead of 72 hours, Newsom said.

Newsom said that with the good news pertaining to reported effectiveness rates of in-development vaccines, the situation was evolving from a marathon to a sprint. Still, he said, most people are a long way off from receiving a vaccine, and the spread of the coronavirus needs to be mitigated in the meantime.

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