San Mateo county advances to the red tier, easing restrictions on many businesses

College community debates risk of virus spreading as the county advances to a new tier

A screenshot taken from, Thurs. March. 25, 2020

San Mateo County was amongst a few counties to be advanced into the red tier category of California’s reopening blueprint, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The red tier category is the second-most restrictive category after the purple tier. Currently, there are 11 counties in the purple tier in the state of California. Counties moving to the red tier highlight “substantial spread,” which means that there are 5-8% positive tests in the county or there are 4-7 daily new cases per 100,000 people, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Exiting the purple tier means that malls and retail stores can open with 50% indoor capacity, movie theaters and museums can reopen at 25% capacity, and gyms will be allowed to open indoors at 10% capacity.

While easing restrictions due to advancing to the red tier has brought a sense of relief for many people, it has also sparked new questions.

“I feel pretty confident in San Mateo County moving to the red tier, cases are going down, and infections are not as bad,” said Aidan Walker, a psychology major, at Skyline College.

“As a student, I’m pretty happy that things are going down, but I’m not so sure I’m ready to return just yet,” added Walker. “What I can say, though, (is that) my dad is a teacher, and his school is planning to return because of this decision, and I’m not so sure if that is a good idea for students and teachers.”

Another student, Kiana Leong, a political science major at Skyline College criticized the opening.

“I definitely think reopening is more dangerous than it was before due to the new variants,” said Leong. “I’m really worried about the new variants and the lax attitudes towards them.”

While to advance any further into other less restrictive tiers, the county must have been in the current tier for a minimum of three weeks, according to California’s reopening blueprint.

Currently, frontline workers across California are being vaccinated. Emily Risk, registered nurse at Skyline College who was recently vaccinated, said that advancing to a new tier was an important step.

“People are following the recommendations, and numbers are down,” Risk said. “The mental health toll that social isolation brings is real, and we will benefit from seeing people again. But we must do this safely.”

The health center at Skyline College is open for Zoom appointments 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays.