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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Neetu Balram, Public Information Manager September 22, 2020 Alameda County Public Health Department

Alameda County Statement on Red Tier

ALAMEDA COUNTY, CA – Last month the State announced their color-coded four-tier Blueprint
for a Safer Economy. Today the State announced that Alameda County is in the Red Tier. This is a tier below Purple, and still reflects the substantial risk of COVID-19 in our county.

While movement to the Red Tier allows for additional sectors to open with restrictions, local Health Officers can proceed more cautiously than the State allows. As with all other re-openings, it will be important for Alameda County to take a measured and phased approach to avoid dramatic increases in disease transmission and re-closures. As we did when the Blueprint for a Safer Economy was first announced, we are carefully examining the potential impact of activities that may be permitted to reopen or expand in the Red Tier.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, we have learned a lot more about the effectiveness of COVID-19 mitigation strategies like limiting mixing among different households and maintaining stable groups, consistent use of face coverings, physical distancing, good handwashing technique, and screening of symptoms and exposure.

We are using the next two weeks (through October 6) to ensure our metrics remain stable and we will release a phased plan that balances increased risk of spread of COVID-19 from newly permitted activities alongside appropriate mitigation strategies that can be implemented. At this time, there is no change to permitted or prohibited activities in Alameda County.

Bringing students back for in-person learning is a top priority for the next phase of reopening. Though counties in the Red Tier are permitted to open schools for in-person learning after two weeks in the Red Tier, our Health Officer Order issued on August 28 clarified that schools must continue distance learning until such time that local conditions support in-person learning, even if the County meets the State’s criteria for in-person learning.

While an immediate return of all Alameda County K-12 students and school staff could potentially increase transmission of COVID-19, the impact of distance learning on both students’ mental health and their ability to learn is clear. We know that educational inequities and the achievement gap are likely exacerbated by having children learning from home. We also know it is hardest for younger children to spend all day learning online.

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