Counties with more than 106,000 residents will now have to meet an additional metric in order to move to the next phase of reopening. In addition to meeting case rate and positivity rate goals, these counties will need to bring infection rates down in low income neighborhoods, where cases tend to spike.
This means a higher investment in testing, contact tracing, outreach, and support to help those isolate that are infected. In addition, counties must submit their plans to the state. Over the course of the pandemic, disadvantaged neighborhoods and people of color have had statistically higher positivity rates compared to that of the overall population. In San Mateo County for example, over 50% of our cases identify as Latinx. While the county is still trying to determine why this group contracts COVID at a much higher rate, crowded living conditions, less access to healthcare, and a higher likelihood of employment as a frontline worker are thought to play a role.
In order for San Mateo County to move to orange, our positivity rate metric in disadvantaged areas must be at 5.25% or less. Currently the metric is over 7% so there is a lot of work that will need to be done in order to decrease the positivity rate. If we cannot achieve this goal, our county won’t be moved back a tier, we just won’t be able to advance to one that is less restrictive.