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State to move Contra Costa, Sonoma counties into red tier Sunday

Contra Costa and Sonoma counties will finally join the rest of the Bay Area Sunday in a move to the red tier in the state’s reopening blueprint.

In a Contra Costa Health Services press release issued Friday afternoon, Dr. Chris Farnitano said:

“It is encouraging to see our data moving in the right direction, and it’s a testament to the hard work Contra Costa residents have put in to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

However, he encouraged residents to continue using caution, adding:

“But it is important that we make healthy choices to keep up our momentum. This pandemic is not over yet.”

Contra Costa County was expected to reach the red tier by Wednesday, but the California Department of Public Health determined it was safe to do so a few days earlier than anticipated.

The hastened move is partly attributed to the fact that the state has administered two million vaccine doses in hardest-hit communities, prompting an adjustment to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy tier adjustment. California’s new tier framework will be posted online Saturday.

CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón echoed Farnitano’s sentiment in a statement Friday:

“While we have reached a milestone today, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to help ensure we can put an end to this pandemic.”

Both Contra Costa and Sonoma counties can now reopen indoor restaurant dining, movie theaters, museums, zoos and other indoor entertainment at 25 percent capacity. Retail stores can increase customer capacity to 50 percent, and gyms and other fitness centers will be permitted to operate indoors at up to 10 percent capacity.

Nik Wojcik/SFBay Brenden Theatres in Concord, Calif. will be able to reopen at 25 percent capacity as of Sunday, March 14, 2021.

Indoor lectures may resume at colleges and other higher education institutions, following state health guidance. Public elementary and secondary schools can begin phasing back in-person learning without a safety plan submitted in Contra Costa.

Also announced Friday was a statewide shift allowing all breweries, distilleries and wineries to reopen regardless of food service, though those in the purple and red tiers will be limited to outdoor service, 90-minute limits and only by reservation.

As of Friday, Sonoma County is reporting a total of 28,622 confirmed cases and 306 deaths. More than 12 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated — nearly 30 percent have received at least one dose.

Contra Costa’s Friday health department update indicates a 2.4 percent test positivity rate and a total of 390,587 vaccine doses administered. The county has seen more than 715 deaths stemming from 63,830 total confirmed cases to date.

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