FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Neetu Balram, Public Information Manager October 1, 2020 Alameda County Public Health Department
Alameda County Meets New Equity Metric, Allows Elementary Schools to Open if Ready, and Phases in Some Indoor Activities
ALAMEDA COUNTY, CA – Yesterday, September 30, the State announced its COVID-19 health equity metric, which requires counties like ours to ensure that the testing positivity rates in their most disadvantaged neighborhoods, defined as the lowest quartile of the U.S. Census Healthy Places Index for California (HPI), are within the same range as the county’s overall test positivity rate.
This new metric is in addition to the overall testing positivity rate and case rate requirements within the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy and will go into effect on October 6. This means that for Alameda County to progress to the next tier, Orange, we must have an adjusted daily case rate between 1 to 3.9 per 100,000, an overall positivity rate between 2 and 4.9%, and our lowest quartile HPI census tracts’ testing positivity must be equal to or less than 5.2%. The health equity metric will not be used to move counties to a more restrictive tier.
COVID-19 has highlighted longstanding systemic inequities and their impact on the overall health and life expectancy. We share the State’s commitment to reducing disparities, and have focused on health equity from the outset of our response. That is why Alameda County has already acted to better serve our Latinx, Black and African American, and Pacific Islander communities, who are disproportionally impacted by COVID-19. This includes services like culturally and linguistically competent case investigation and contact tracing, resources and housing options to support residents so they can safely isolate, and increasing access to testing in communities that are seeing high testing positivity and case rates. Through the Health Care Services Agency alone, the County is slated to spend more than $52M toward community-based response efforts, with a focus on zip codes with the highest COVID-19 rates.
Based on the data made available by the State, we are already seeing the results of those actions and Alameda County is currently meeting the health equity metric: our lowest HPI quartile has a testing positivity rate of 3.8% and the overall positivity rate is 2.3%. The adjusted daily case rate is 4.1 per 100,000.
Alameda County Current Tier Status
Adjusted Case Rate per 100,000
Overall Test Positivity Rate
Lowest HPI Quartile Test Positivity Rate
Tier 1 (Widespread)
Tier 2 (Substantial)
4 to 7
5% to 8%
Tier 3 (Moderate)
1 to 3.9
2% to 4.9%
Tier 4 (Minimal)
We know the work is only beginning. By partnering with local organizations in communities that have been hit hardest, we can improve health education and increase access to critical resources to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and close the health equity gaps that preexisted this deadly virus. This is the only way to ensure Alameda County can open safely for everyone and why we must continue to take measured steps to opening.
Newly Permitted Activities Under the Red Tier
On September 22, Alameda County moved into the Red Tier of the State’s color-coded four-tier Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Local Health Officers may proceed more cautiously than the State allows, and Alameda County public health officials have used this time to carefully consider the risks associated with activities that may be permitted to open or expand under the Red Tier.
As COVID-19 still poses substantial risk to Alameda County residents and workers, the following updates to the Health Officer Orders represent a phased approach to opening to avoid dramatic increases in disease transmission and re-closures.
Starting October 13, Elementary Schools May Reopen
The State allows schools to open for in-person learning for counties in the Red. As of October 13, elementary schools (transitional kindergarten-6th grade) that complete a COVID-19 health and safety reopening plan are permitted to open. The decision and timing of when to open rests with each school and school district, and schools are not required to open if not ready.
Elementary schools are required to post their reopening plans to their school or school district website and submit their plan to the Alameda County Office of Education. Schools planning to open must notify the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency of their decision and provide the website link to their plan.