San Mateo County likely to fall into purple tier

San Mateo County currently is in the red tier, but health officials say it is probably just a matter of time before it drops into the purple tier, the state's most restrictive.

At Antigua Coffee Shop in South San Francisco, customers can still dine indoors if they choose. With San Mateo County in the red tier, restaurants can seat people inside at 25 percent capacity.

"There is a high probability we could go into purple," says San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa. “With purple, not only comes health devastation but economic devastation.”

That economic devastation could be felt right here at Antigua. Purple would mean no more indoor dining or indoor gyms. Dozens of other California counties were recently tossed back into this level.

"If that happens, I don't know if we will be able to survive. At least when they allowed people inside it was helping," says Caicero.

San Mateo County health officials did not specifically address moving into the purple tier,  but had this ominous message in a statement: 

"San Mateo County is experiencing among the highest level of cases we have seen since the pandemic’s beginning,” the statement said.

San Mateo, San Francisco, and Marin are the only three Bay Area counties currently in the red tier. The other six that make up the region are all confined to the purple level.

But San Francisco, like San Mateo, is expected to move into the bottom tier soon. A week ago both those counties had been in higher tiers and dropped. That's how quickly fortunes can change with COVID-19.

“The writing is on the wall when you look at the graffs and rate of increase. It's breathtaking," says Dr. Peter Chin-Hong who specializes in infectious diseases at UC San Francisco. "We are increasingly boxed in by all the fire of covid right outside our borders. And because we have porous borders it is only a matter of time.”

Health experts say COVID rates could rise, once test results start come back after Thanksgiving.