Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the Department of Public Health, said he expected San Francisco to enter the purple tier within days.
Chris Victorio/Special to S.F. Examiner

Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the Department of Public Health, said he expected San Francisco to enter the purple tier within days. Chris Victorio/Special to S.F. Examiner

SF still in the red but expects move into purple tier ‘some time soon’

Four more counties moved into highest COVID-19 risk category by state

Four more counties moved into the state’s most restrictive COVID-19 purple tier Tuesday, but San Francisco wasn’t one of them.

The City remains in the second highest red tier despite a warning Friday from Department of Public Health head Dr. Grant Colfax that San Francisco had been expected to enter the purple tier as early as last Sunday.

Colfax said Tuesday that he still expects San Francisco will move into the purple tier “sometime soon, perhaps later this week,” due to the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases.

“We see an aggressive increase in our cases week over week,” Colfax said. “We are fast approaching the case count to be reassigned to the purple tier.”

Average daily new cases by week have risen to 118, up from 73 at the start of the month. The City’s positivity rate was .81 percent last month but today it is 2.15 percent “and going up.”

A move into the purple tier would mean The City would have to impose two days later a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, when all non-essential activities must stop.

The City would also have to shut down within 24 hours indoor businesses and activities that had reopened, including gyms, museums, movie theaters and houses of worship. Additionally, all retail except grocery stores would see their capacity reduce from 50 percent to 25 percent. Restaurants could still do takeout and delivery during the curfew hours.

Joaquín Torres, director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, said that many restaurants were asking if The City would impose restrictions that went beyond what’s required in the purple tier as Los Angeles banned outdoor dining this week.

“The answer there is no,” Torres said.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly updated the tier status of counties Tuesday, when four more counties — Colusa, Del Norte, Humboldt and Lassen — moved back into the purple, bringing the total to 45. This means nearly 95 percent of the state’s population is in the purple tier, while San Francisco is among only eight counties in the red tier.

Ghaly said “each county has a slightly different story.”

“They have seen a significant surge in cases,” Ghaly said of San Francisco, noting only a few weeks ago The City was in the least restrictive yellow tier. “We believe that some of the tools that they put in place will be helpful and we hope to see them hold steady where they are but we are fully prepared that they may not.”

The City has shut down indoor dining and non-essential offices in recent weeks.

There were 15,329 newly diagnosed cases in California in the past day and a seven-day average of 12,532. The 14-day positivity rate has grown to 5.6 percent, a 51 percent increase since Nov. 10.

“We need to continue to dig in and do what we can to keep that transmission low,” Ghaly said. “These numbers are really going up and going up quickly.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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