Why SF isn't in orange tier despite having some of the strongest COVID-19 numbers in CA

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco is currently in the red tier, but the city's coronavirus numbers are actually good enough to be in the orange tier. It may sound confusing, but because the city was in the purple tier, it then goes to the red, and then after three weeks can go to the orange due to the state rules.

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While the Financial District of San Francisco was quiet Wednesday evening, that could soon be changing if and when we improve into that next orange tier.

"That will be the big change, that'll mean we can reopen downtown offices. The big question then becomes, 'will people come back to go to those offices?'" says ABC7 News Contributor Phil Matier.

"Our companies that we're working with today are seeing that remote work works," says Randi Weitzman.

Weitzman is the executive director at the staffing firm Robert Half. She says that health and safety will be first and foremost for companies thinking of reopening offices.

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The current COVID-19 numbers in San Francisco are actually good enough to be in the orange tier instead of the red, but skipping tiers isn't allowed - Counties must be in each tier for at least three weeks before moving onto the next one.

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong of UCSF says our numbers are improving, but still not as good as they were last fall.

"Sure, we're definitely lower than where we were in the dark days of December and January, but we're definitely not where we were in October and that's why many people fear because we're landing on a higher set point. It's easier to reverse the progress we've made," says Dr. Chin-Hong.

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When we do eventually get to the orange tier, Weitzman believes a hybrid model of home and office work is what we're likely to see.

"I think in the next couple of months we'll see a lot change from what we've been seeing in the last year, but ultimately, I think we have a whole new vision of the work force," says Weitzman.

If the COVID-19 numbers in San Francisco hold or improve, it's likely to go into the orange tier on March 23.

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