After nearly two months of being in the most restrictive tiers within the state’s COVID-19 reopening framework, San Mateo County has brought infection rates down low enough to enter into the next less restrictive tier.

“This is a total team effort, and by team I mean everyone who lives and works and loves San Mateo County,” said County Manager Mike Callagy in a press release. “Every time you wear your face covering, wash your hands, practice social distancing and take other common-sense precautions, you contribute to the team effort to reopening our economy and returning our lives to as normal as possible.”

Beginning today, indoor family entertainment as well as outdoor bars, breweries and distilleries that do not sell food are permitted to open with modifications. Many businesses already permitted to reopen are now allowed to expand operations to 50% capacity indoors, including restaurants, museums, places of worship and movie theaters. 

Gyms, fitness centers and indoor pools are also permitted to expand operations to 25% capacity but hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms must remain closed. 

Establishments opting to reopen are expected to enforce state health orders including requiring face coverings, maintaining social distancing and providing facilities for patrons to wash their hands and sanitize. 

“We ask everyone to continue to work to limit the exposure of themselves and their families to COVID-19,” said San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow in the release. “We are moving quickly towards Halloween and the holiday season. We can’t stress enough: wear your face covering, wash your hands, avoid close-contact with anyone not in your household. We have too much riding on our progress to go backwards now. Our comeback depends on all of us.”

Through test expansion, the county has been able to bring its average positive test rate down to 1.6% per 100,000 residents, its adjusted care of down to 3 cases per 100,000 residents. A county must maintain a test positivity rate below 4.9% and a new daily case rate below 3.9 case rate for two consecutive weeks before moving into the orange “moderate risk tier.” The county also had to meet the state’s new health equity metric which required counties to address infection rates in underserved community by bringing the positive test rate in those areas below 5.2% for two consecutive weeks. The county currently has a health equity metric of 3.7%.

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(1) comment

Scott McVicker

I note that the word "case" has been replaced with “positive test”. That is some progress. And the advice of hand washing and distancing is applicable to any virus. Masks as a barrier to the virus entering your body – inadequate...but this is all they have...and it gives them something to talk about.

When we test for persons who have encountered the virus, we are merely cataloging its progress...and that is very much less useful than finding those who have actually fallen ill from the encounter...and more specifically, those who have died as a result. We should not be alarmed by “positive test rates” nor should our strategy going forward be based on them. Google Scott Atlas or see the interview at:

Now a thought experiment: If ALL testing stopped, what metric would we use to catalog the progress of the virus going forward. Would we look at the 159 deaths among our County's population of over 771,000? Using this death count, could we generate sufficient alarm to justify the destruction of our civilization? The answer you might be reluctant to accept is “No”. Even the Branch Covidians have to give me this one.


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