Only 1 Bay Area county left out of orange tier: What went wrong?

ByAlix Martichoux and Laura Anthony KGO logo
Thursday, April 8, 2021
1 Bay Area county left out of orange tier: What went wrong?
Solano County is the only county in the Bay Area left out of the orange tier. Why is it still stuck in the red? We took a look at the county's COVID-19 case rate and vaccine rollout.

SOLANO CO., Calif. (KGO) -- As of Wednesday, every Bay Area county has moved into the orange tier except one: Solano County. As its neighbors have moved from purple to red to orange, Solano County has been lagging behind.

The county's seven-day-average of new COVID-19 cases was last reported at 7.8 per 100,000 residents. The number would need to drop below 5.9 new cases per 100,000 residents to qualify the county for the orange tier.

To make matters worse, the key COVID-19 indicators that determine which reopening tier you're in are actually trending in the wrong direction in Solano. (Select Solano County in the drop-down menu below to see.)

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California just changed the reopening rules on Tuesday, which would actually make it easier for counties to qualify for less restrictive tiers. Last week's numbers in Solano County would have qualified it to be bumped into the orange tier, but now the county's test positivity percentage and case rate are both climbing up.

MAP: CA counties that can, can't reopen under new rules

In some ways, the county was hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its overall case numbers are lower than some of the larger Bay Area counties, but its cases per capita are highest.

"The fact that we're still in the red tier represents that we're a blend of Bay Area and Sacramento area," explained Solano County Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas. "The Bay Area region has demonstrated a higher degree of willingness to comply with social distancing and with masking. They have a higher degree of desire for vaccination, for example."

Solano County is also lagging behind the rest of the region when it comes to vaccines. About 40% of Solano County residents over 16 have gotten at least one dose; 22% are fully vaccinated. By comparison, San Francisco is at 50% of residents with one dose and 30% fully vaccinated. San Francisco's current case numbers are so low, it could move into the least restrictive yellow tier next week.

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While in the red tier, Solano County businesses face tougher restrictions than the rest of the Bay Area. Gyms, for example, can only operate at 10% capacity (instead of 25% in the orange tier) and restaurants are limited to 25% indoors (instead of 50% in the orange).

MAP: Here's the reopening status of every Bay Area county

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Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the entire tier system will be put to rest soon. If current trends hold, he plans to fully reopen the California economy on June 15.