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Pandemic restrictions return as COVID-19 cases spike in Alameda county

on November 19, 2020

Alameda County restrictions moved back to the purple tier — the most restrictive tier — after COVID-19 cases increased by 48% in Alameda county week over week, according to data from the California Public Health Department. Governor Gavin Newsom announced 40 counties in total will move to the purple tier, placing the vast majority of Californians under the strictest COVID-19 regulations as defined by the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy reopening plan.

“We are seeing community spread broadly now throughout the state of California,” Newsom said in a press conference announcing the rollback. “This is simply the fastest increase California has seen since the beginning of this pandemic.”

At the time of publication, Alameda County had seen a total of 25,879 cases of COVID-19 and 489 deaths since the pandemic began. There are currently 22 positive patients in the ICU, with 107 ICU beds available, according to data from the state of California.

“We need Alameda County residents and businesses to, once again, rise to the challenge and help flatten the curve,” said Dr. Nicholas Moss, Alameda County Health Officer in a press release.

The Centers for Disease Control say the increase in cases is being driven by small group contacts. Infections are spreading through small family gatherings, meeting up with friends, and other activities that are perceived as low risk compared to large gatherings.

The increased prevalence of COVID-19 in the community means that all encounters are riskier. More people infected means more opportunities to catch the virus. More cases in the community fundamentally increase the risk for all other activities. 

“What we’re seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually the acquisition of infection through small household gatherings,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a call with governors in October, according to CNN. “Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it’s really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting.”

California state public health officials are recommending people traveling from out of state to quarantine for 14 days when they arrive in California. While it’s not a mandate, the state hopes travelers will take the advice.

“We know that it’s not an easy thing to do, that it creates a hardship, but we know that if we’re gonna get through this really difficult time with surging cases, that these are the important steps that we need to make as personal and individual choices,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said.

Thanksgiving weekend could dramatically accelerate COVID-19 trends across the country, including in Alameda county. Increased travel and contact between families and friends would give the coronavirus more opportunities to spread. 

“The data we are seeing is very concerning. We are in the midst of a surge, and time is of the essence. Every day matters and every decision matters,” Ghaly said in a press release. 

Alameda County officials suggested a few strategies to make celebrations safer. The safest celebration however would be to stay home this year. 

Outdoors is better than indoors. The fewer people the better — the county recommends keeping celebrations to three families or less. Things should be kept under two hours. You should not have multiple small gatherings — keep the groups of people you see stable. 

“Stay home for the holidays, wear face masks, maintain at least six feet of distance, wash your hands frequently, and get your flu shot,” Moss said. “Now more than ever, we must protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors with these simple strategies.”

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