Slight uptick in cases may delay Marin County's move to less restrictive tier

Marin County could be the first Bay Area region to shift to the yellow tier as early as Tuesday.  But, there are some obstacles in the way.

Marin County is teetering the between orange and yellow tiers, and health officials say a recent uptick in infections could mean the county will have to wait to shift tiers.

The Bay Area and state have learned to watch and wait on Tuesdays to learn which counties will be moving into different tiers on the state's color-coded blueprint. Marin County is the only Bay Area county on the verge of going yellow.

County health officer, Dr. Matt Willis, said Marin County's infection rate ticked up just a fraction, but that may be just enough to delay a move to the yellow tier. 

"Too close to call," said Willis. "We were at 1.7 cases, we need to be less than two, that's per 100,000 residents per day. When I last looked on Friday, we were at about 2.1 cases. So, we did a little bit of backsliding. So, it's possible we won't meet the criteria and won't move into the yellow tier."

He said the slight increase is likely the result of Marin County residents relaxing their vigilance. 

"We're seeing cases associated with travel," said Willis. "People traveling outside of the area, coming back being tested, and testing positive. That's probably the primary contributor to this little backsliding we saw this last week. We're seeing more cases associated with indoor social gatherings."

Just across the Golden Gate, San Francisco health leaders said they're hopeful they are trending in the right direction. 

"We're looking very good right now," said the city's health officer, Dr. Susan Philip."In terms of our case numbers staying low, and particularly our hospitalizations being very low throughout the city."

Since the tier system was initiated San Francisco was the only Bay Area county to briefly attain yellow tier last year.

Health authorities are hoping this week’s data will be the first of two weeks that could allow San Francisco to qualify once again for the yellow tier as early as April 28th. County officials said even if San Francisco returns to the yellow tier, they may decide to keep some restrictions in place. 

"So, we have taken a conservative approach and it has saved lives in San Francisco, and it's also been very difficult," said Philip. "We understand that economic health and recovery and opening are important as well."

The governor has said with the ongoing vaccinations and infections trending downward, he hopes to end the color-coded tier system entirely on June 15.

As always health officials say they need people to remain vigilant and continue to follow health guidelines.