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COVID UPDATE: CoCo Health Officials Tell Supes County's Move to Red Tier Could Happen Next Week

MARTINEZ (CBS SF/BCN) -- County health director Anna Roth told the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Tuesday that the number of COVID-19 cases countywide has dropped into the state's red tier for reopening, meaning Contra Costa restaurants, gyms and retail establishments will likely be able to open indoors, with limits, next week.

In-person instruction for grades 7-12 could also restart next week, assuming the county's case numbers don't spike.

"If we remain on the same path, which we expect that we will, that means that there will be some changes for our community early next week, or by mid-next week," Roth said.

County health officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said the overall case rate per 100,000 people has dropped to 8.1% -- from 10.4% the previous week -- which is still over the state-mandated 7%. But Contra Costa's test positivity rate has dropped from 3.4% to 2.9% and the county's equity metric in the hardest-hit regions has dropped from more than 16% in mid-January to 4.8%.

Both numbers fall into the state's orange tier, which qualifies Contra Costa for its first official Tuesday toward the two consecutive Tuesdays mandated for the next level of reopening.

"We expect -- if these trends continue -- to meet the criteria next Tuesday, which means more business activities can be allowed next Wednesday, a week from tomorrow," Farnitano said.

It would also mean grades 7 through 12 can return to campus, restaurants could reopen indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, and retail could expand capacity from 25 to 50%. Gyms and fitness centers could reopen indoors at 10 percent capacity. Churches would remain capped at their current 25%.

County officials also said they expect the state to expand vaccinations to people of all ages with high-risk conditions by March 15 -- the same day the county will open another mass vaccination site at Diablo Valley College's San Ramon campus.

Farnitano said the county will receive a "significant" increase in vaccines over the coming weeks.

More than 27% of Contra Costa residents -- about 370,000 people -- have received at least their first dose. Farnitano said people should still sign up for vaccination where they can, including multiple lists.

Residents can sign up at multiple sites, including the county health site and the state's MyTurn page.

© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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