As much of the Bay Area moves into orange tier, Solano County will remain in red

As much of the Bay Area moves into the more permissive orange tier, Solano County says it will remain in the red for now.

And that's more of a relief than disappointment.

"We had a recent rise two weeks ago, and it was a slight rise and now it looks like we're coming back down again," said James Cooper, President and CEO of the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce.

The 400-member Chamber has been worried the county would backslide into the purple tier, which would prohibit many indoor activities again.  

"If we had to take a step back that would be devastating," said Cooper, "especially as you're getting your mind ready to come out of this, to have somebody come in and say stop, we need to step back."

Contra Costa, Napa, Sonoma counties expected to move into the orange tier

Heading into Easter weekend, Solano County health officials warned about an uptick in positive cases, particularly among younger people not yet eligible for vaccination.

Regressing would have hurt business owners financially and derailed the optimism many are feeling now.

"Businesses are really in that mindset that they want to re-hire, they want to re-engage their clients and they want to open for more hours," said Cooper. "We have a sense of positivity among our businesses."

At Mare Island Brewing Co. owner Kent Fortner admits he tracks the latest county Covid-19 data and tries to read the trends. 

"We're seeing really low ICU and really low hospitalizations," said Fortner, "but I understand there's a rise in rates so some push and pull going on."

Fortner has 45 employees across three locations and has been hiring now that indoor service is allowed in his brewpubs.

"There's real momentum that feels like our country is opening back up and our community is opening back up," said Fortner.

But he admits he was worried about a potential reversal. 

"Those words reverberated through the community saying we could go back to purple," he said. 

Fortner notes every stop and start requires staffing changes, and reduced hours slash income for his staff.

He is now having trouble finding experienced employees because many have left the industry after such an erratic year.

"It's awfully tough to re-open without stability so it would be nice to have a better sense of where things are going," said Fortner.

Customers say they don't want to see the county lose ground either.

"We just need to continue to do the right thing, we're almost there," said Scott Keever of Vallejo, sipping a beer on the patio.

"What is it, a couple more months maybe? Wear your mask!"

Fortner heartily agrees.

"I've got my second shot, and pretty much all my staff is vaccinated at this point, because we want to do what's right, I want my grandparents safe, and I want my kids back at school." 

As Solano numbers fluctuate, churches, movie theatres, gyms and restaurants can continue to welcome people inside, with limits. 

"You just got to keep on," said Cooper, " and I think it's hardest when it feels like the end is closest, but that's when we've got to maintain  vigilance until we really are on the other side of this."