Only Bay Area county in red tier worries visitors could impact COVID-19 trend

Wayne Freedman Image
ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Marin County worries visitors could impact COVID-19 trend
Marin County health officials are worried that visitors from outside the area could impact the county's already upward trend in COVID-19 cases.

MARIN, Calif. (KGO) -- It's the bridge painted orange, a golden gateway between the land of the purple COVID tier in San Francisco, and the red in Marin.

It also demonstrates the difference those two colors can make.

RELATED: California COVID-19 tiers: Marin is the last Bay Area county not on total lockdown

In San Francisco, the main parking lot remains closed for that iconic landmark.

At Vista Point on the Marin side, visitors are free to come and go.

"You aren't wearing a mask," we pointed out to Sean O'Brien from Montana.

"We don't do that in Montana. We live free in Montana," he said. "It's just the flu."

That defense does not play well in neighboring Sausalito.

VIDEO: Bay Area surpasses 'summer surge' for most COVID-19 cases of pandemic

"I would say he needs to wear a mask. Everybody does," said Dennis Webb, a local contractor.

The sentiment rings especially true, here. After seeing the bridge, Sausalito is often the first stop for visitors, including those from infected areas. Outsiders have become a legitimate concern for Dr. Matt Willis, who runs Marin County Health.

"The possibility of us being a destination is somewhat concerning," said Dr. Willis.

Sausalito ranks 12th among Marin Cities for COVID-19 infection rates, but the county's numbers show that they have doubled in this small community during the last month. It could be the precursor to a trend.

While Marin remains the only Bay Area county still in the red COVID tier, Dr. Willis expects to see it become purple within two weeks, and perhaps sooner.

RELATED: UCSF doctor sheds light on what new shelter-in-place order in California could look like

"In October we had ten cases a day. Now we have 30 per day in the county. At 40, we'll be purple. Our rates are rising, just not as rapidly as other areas around us," said Dr. Willis.

Marin County tests at twice the state average. That helps to identify cases early. But people from out of town remain an unknown factor, especially in the cities near the county line.

At the Sausalito Bakery and Café, Farida Azar wonders constantly about outsiders bringing the virus into her business of sixteen years.

"They wear masks, but we are very close to the city. Close to the city is convenient for people to visit us. There is more concern here than elsewhere," said Azar.

That concern remains unrealized, thus far, but trending.

See the tracker below to find out how COVID-19 cases are trending in your county.

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