Orange is the new tier | March 26, 2021 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 26, 2021

Orange is the new tier

Also, county arranges to continue to get vaccine doses directly from state

by Sue Dremann and Eli Walsh

Santa Clara County moved into the state's orange tier of COVID-19 restrictions Tuesday, allowing the county to expand indoor capacities for some businesses and reopen bars outdoors starting Wednesday.

It joins San Mateo County, which moved into the orange tier last week.

Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said the tier change reflects the county's persistence in reducing its cases and hospitalizations.

The tier change from red to orange will allow each county to increase indoor capacity from 25% to 50% for sectors such as places of worship, movie theaters and restaurants. Gyms and fitness centers will be allowed to raise capacity from 10% to 25%.

Orange is the most restrictive tier in which bars can operate under any circumstance. (A move to the looser yellow tier would allow a county to resume indoor operations at bars at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer, according to the California Department of Public Health.)

Under the orange tier, business sectors like family entertainment centers, cardrooms, offices and wineries will be allowed to resume indoor operations after being limited to opening outdoors or being closed altogether in the red and purple tiers.

On April 1, counties in the orange tier can allow 33% capacity crowds at outdoor professional sporting events and 25% capacity or 500 people, whichever is fewer, at amusement parks.

Guests at outdoor arenas must be state residents while amusement park guests must live in the same county as the venue.

Details on which businesses can operate in the orange tier and at what capacity can be found at

Vaccination slowdown

Also this week, Santa Clara County entered into a "settlement in good faith" with the state that will allow the county to work directly with the state to get its supply of the vaccines, without signing an agreement with third-party administrator Blue Shield. A memorandum with Blue Shield would have prohibited the county from transferring vaccine doses to its health partners, hampering efforts to focus on communities most impacted by the virus.

"The most important thing is we can subgrant the vaccines to community clinics that are part of our network," county Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez said Wednesday.

The county also won't be required to use the state's system for residents to sign up for their vaccine appointments until it becomes more functional, she said.

The trend in overall vaccinations by the county health system and first and second doses decreased this week due to continued issues with allocations by the state, county leaders told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. The seven-day average for county-administered first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines has plummeted to 911 compared to more than 5,000 doses two weeks ago. The number of second doses remains relatively flat. The seven-day average total for all doses, including the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, has dropped from a high of about 8,000 two weeks ago to 5,118, according to county data.

While the county's allocations have slid, doses allocated to Kaiser Permanente have finally risen. The county recently had to transfer back to Kaiser 22,000 appointments initially made at county sites, so that patients would receive their shots at Kaiser.

Meanwhile, county health leaders said they are seeing a flattening of the trajectory of COVID-19 cases rather than a continued decline.

Cody told county supervisors on Tuesday she is hopeful that, if there is another surge, it might not be as severe because more people have been vaccinated, but she cautioned that there are many unknown variables, including the rise of variants of the deadly virus that are known to make people more sick.

Cody said that the region is "not out of the woods" yet and should continue to take precautions that public health leaders have recommended throughout the pandemic.

The county has now vaccinated 69.1% of residents ages 75 and older with at least one dose and 66.2% of residents ages 65 and older with at least one dose, county COVID-19 testing and vaccine officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib said at the board meeting.

When factoring in the entire population of residents ages 16 and older, overall, 28.2% have received at least one dose. Broken down by race, 22.8% of African Americans, 28.4% of Asians, 15.9% of Latinos and 30.4% of whites have been either fully or partially vaccinated. Fenstersheib said.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at [email protected] Eli Walsh is a reporter for Bay City News Service.


Posted by Jeremy Erman
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 23, 2021 at 11:31 pm

Jeremy Erman is a registered user.

I think there are also guidelines for performing arts that are supposed to go into effect April 1, but I don't know if those have been clearly laid out yet. The State only created a "Live Performances" category on its Industry Guidance page in early March--despite months of guidance for in-person athletics--and only announced yesterday that "band, drumline, choir and drama are considered low contact youth recreational activities, and should follow all relevant requirements and recommendations."

I'm still amazed and quite angry over state and local governments constant efforts to allow as much athletic activities as possible throughout the pandemic while mostly ignoring the arts. Guidelines for what activities (and jobs) have been allowed and not allowed have frequently been hypocritical and inconsistent.

Industry Guidance: Web Link

Youth Sports (which apparently now includes performing arts!!): Web Link

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2021 at 9:04 am

Bystander is a registered user.

This is going to make a huge difference over the coming weeks and months. As people return to work in their offices, commutes and office workers in some of our business areas will be returning to "normal". This will in turn bring people back to those area restaurants and other service businesses.

Decisions by the council on such things as traffic and zoning should wait until such time normal practices have returned.

There is definitely a feeling of light at the end of the tunnel. For some this is a huge shift in lifestyle.

Posted by Billy Parker
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2021 at 9:43 am

Billy Parker is a registered user.

@There is definitely a feeling of light at the end of the tunnel. For some this is a huge shift in lifestyle.

For some, yes and for many this will be an opportunity for their everyday lives to return to normal.

Speaking for myself, I am hoping that I will not get called back to my lousy job in shipping and receiving.

I am looking forward to receiving my
added EDD coronavirus stimulus checks of $300.00 weekly + the $1200.00 monthly that I already get in unemployment insurance as this equates to more than I am taking home (net income) in working wages.

The EDD weekly stimulus runs until Labor Day and I am knocking on wood that I will not get recalled to work because if I refuse a job assignment, I will lose this added weekly EDD stimulus
payment along with my regular unemployment benefits.

Going back to work is OK for those making considerably more in income but for me, why bother?

The coronavirus has not been eradicated as of yet and going to work for coolie wages is hardly worth the risk.

I am sure many other workers feel this way as well (except for maybe the Republican lawmakers who voted against the stimulus package and don't do any real work themselves).

Posted by Peter LaRoux
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 24, 2021 at 10:25 am

Peter LaRoux is a registered user.

Can't rightly blame the previous poster.

Why should only the lower-paid workers be forced back into employment while the pandemic is still at large?

If certain big businesses fail, that's just part of economics going back to the Reagan era (i.e. Reaganomics).

M any of the non-essential businesses (i.e. gyms, nail salons, restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas etc.) that have been closed due to the coronavirus would be considered luxuries in other parts of the 3rd or developing worlds.

Perhaps time to reassess our priorities.

Posted by Whitey McWhiterson
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2021 at 11:37 am

Whitey McWhiterson is a registered user.

yeah, what if going back to your lousy shipping and receiving job means you are no longer exempt from free entrance into Foothill Park? Better dodge those calls, so the Palo Alto City Council won't disqualify you from their PC exception list! Would it be worth it to become active military? I mean, long enough to take a picture to show the Palo Alto City Council. Pretty much the wild animals at Foothills Park can leave or become extinct if it means, this poor guy doesn't have to work at a job he doesn't like. Maybe these are the priorities Mr. LaReux is talking about?

Posted by Mark Levin
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2021 at 12:10 pm

Mark Levin is a registered user.

Entrance into Foothills Park has absolutely nothing to do with one's occupation.

Posted by Whitey McWhiterson
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2021 at 12:16 pm

Whitey McWhiterson is a registered user.

yes it does. There is an exception for free entrance if you are "low-income". Also active military. Both of these exceptions refer to occupations.

What I am wondering, since the constitution is now interpreted by the Palo Alto City Council to mean, not the pursuit of happiness and opportunity, but the right to equal happiness and equal outcome? Maybe I should apologize for the racism of being able to afford a home in Palo Alto? Then, with my virtue appropriately signaled, we should ban all entrance into Foothill Park unless you are low income AND live in your Winnabego? There are deer they can kill for food and whatnot too.

Posted by Whitey McWhiterson
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2021 at 12:25 pm

Whitey McWhiterson is a registered user.

Bathrooms, running water? Foothill Park is it.! Join me in humanity, Mr. Levin! Where did he go?

Posted by Bill Wlloughby
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 24, 2021 at 12:31 pm

Bill Wlloughby is a registered user.

In terms of park entrance, who cares if someone is of low-come or in the military?

Just let them in. No big deal.

It's just a park and the ACLU/NAACP have assured it will remain open to all.

There's no time or need for reactionary conservative outrage in response to a front gate.

Energy might be better served complaining about Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Suess.

Posted by Whitey McWhiterson
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2021 at 12:52 pm

Whitey McWhiterson is a registered user.

Such heartless responses! I offer the answer to poverty and homelessness in Palo Alto, Foothill Park! and just because of my name, no one listens, Jack!

Posted by Whitey McWhiterson
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2021 at 6:41 pm

Whitey McWhiterson is a registered user.

Of course, now that the park is reportedly turning away 400 (too many) cars (over maximum capacity) a day on Saturdays and Sundays, William is especially right. Foothill Park with this City Council and attorney-demanded excessive human patronage will quickly become "just a park" and "no big deal."

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