The surge in COVID-19 cases in Alameda County is receding, a health official told county lawmakers Tuesday afternoon. The announcement was made in a weekly update to the Board of Supervisors at their regularly scheduled meeting in Oakland.
The daily number of reported cases in the county dropped dramatically since peaking Jan. 7 at 1,313.
On Monday only 79 cases were reported, according to the county’s data dashboard. “Newly reported cases have stabilized in recent days,” Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss said.
His words come just a day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted the state-imposed stay-at-home order, sending Alameda County and the Bay Area, back to the purple tier in the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The purple tier is the most restrictive tier for economic activity, but it allows more activities than the stay-at-home order the region had been under.
Reasons for optimism
Moss said Tuesday that he’s in agreement that Alameda County should be in the purple tier. He was also optimistic.
“We have the potential to move to the red tier in a matter of weeks,” he said.
Under the purple tier, outdoor dining is permitted and outdoor zoos are allowed to open, as well as hair and nail salons. But many businesses that are not classified as essential must remain closed under the blueprint guidelines.
More than 900 Alameda County residents have died and more than 71,000 people in the county have been infected with the virus, the county’s dashboard shows. The numbers include the city of Berkeley, which has its own public health department.
Problems with vaccine distribution and availability remain
Inoculations of people in the county are moving ahead, but perhaps not as fast as many residents would like. The county is getting about 10,000 first doses of the coronavirus vaccine each week while 145,000 people make up the population of health care workers and those in skilled care facilities who are currently eligible to be vaccinated. “We have a very large health care workforce here,” Colleen Chawla, director of the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency told supervisors. She said the number of people in skilled care facilities is also large.
Two vaccination sites are open in the county. St. Rose Hospital and the Alameda County Library in Castro Valley are each vaccinating 1,000 to 2,000 people a day. Inoculations are also being done by health care providers such as Kaiser Permanente.
Health care officials are looking to close the library location and transition to five points of distribution in five neighborhoods in the county. The neighborhoods are East and West Oakland, Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, the unincorporated Ashland and Cherryland area, and South Hayward. County officials did not say when the library would stop distributing the vaccine or when the five new sites would open.
Chawla said the county may open two mass distribution sites at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, but when that will happen wasn’t disclosed. The two sites could inoculate many more people per day, provided there is vaccine to distribute.
Vaccine distribution to be centralized
To help smooth out the distribution of vaccine, the state is moving to a centralized system, Chawla said she learned from the governor’s office Tuesday. More details will likely be available in the coming days.
The county has received almost 103,000 doses of the vaccine, of which about 64,000 doses were given to the county’s health care partners, such as hospitals and medical clinics, while about 39,000 stayed with the county. About 21,000 doses had been administered by the county as of Saturday, county records show.