Local gyms may be able to open at 25 percent capacity if COVID-19 restrictions are lifted for the county. (Ray Saint Germain/Bay City News)

A low recent COVID-19 case rate and positivity rate mean San Mateo County could advance to the less restrictive orange tier of the state’s reopening framework next week.

San Mateo County stayed in the red Tier 2 of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy this week. Based on data for the week ending Feb. 27, the county had an adjusted case rate of 3 new cases per 100,000 and a positivity rate of 1.2%. For census tracts in the lowest quartile of the Healthy Places Index (HPI), the positivity rate was 2.3%.

These numbers meet the criteria for advancing to the orange Tier 3 following the county’s could required three-week stay in the red tier.

Being in the orange tier would mean that amusement parks and theme parks could reopen, and bars and breweries could open outdoors only after being closed in the red tier. The orange tier would also loosen capacity restrictions for restaurants, places of worship, gyms and fitness centers, some stores, movie theaters and museums.

During a presentation to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, Chief of San Mateo County Health Louise Rogers encouraged people to continue wearing face coverings, social distancing and getting tested at the first sign of COVID-19 symptoms.

“I want to take this opportunity to reconfirm that testing access remains important as we must continue to understand the spread of the virus in our community and be vigilant about potential increases,” Rogers said.

The county continues to provide free testing at various locations. A full testing schedule is available at www.smcgov.org/testing.

While case rates decline, the county’s vaccination numbers continue to inch forward. As of Monday, 177,967 people or 27.7% of the county’s eligible population have received at least the first dose of the vaccine.

Those eligible for the vaccine include health care workers, residents of long-term care facilities, individuals 65 years and older and workers in the food and agriculture, education, child care and emergency response sectors.

Rogers said the county’s vaccination efforts have been focused on census tracts in the lowest HPI quartile of the county.

However, the state’s plan to dedicate 40% of its vaccine supply to zip codes with the lowest Health Places Indexes does not benefit San Mateo County as Rogers said only 10 zip codes in the Bay Area are included in that count and none of them are in San Mateo County.

“If vaccine supplies to California do not increase, the result of this change would be a concerning flattening of our supply, which is already, as you all know, insufficient to meet the demand locally,” Rogers said.

Regardless, the county continues to focus vaccination efforts on its own low HPI census tracts by working with local health centers and community partners to set up vaccine clinics.

Dr. Anand Chabra, San Mateo County Health COVID-19 mass vaccination section chief, said on Tuesday that the county received 22,160 vaccine doses last week, a jump from the 17,860 doses it received two weeks ago. The recent supply includes doses of the Janssen vaccine, developed by Johnson and Johnson.

This week, first and second dose clinics will continue at the San Mateo County Event Center. There will also be clinics in East Palo Alto, Daly City and Half Moon Bay. The Daly City clinic includes a walk-up clinic at a local senior center and the Half Moon Bay clinic will target farmworkers.

Vaccinations also take place via large health care providers and pharmacies.

Chabra said that the county is also beginning to target its vaccination efforts on people experiencing homelessness, those who may be homebound and people who are hospitalized. So far the county has identified at least 900 homebound individuals.

In order to keep up with vaccine opportunities, Rogers recommended that county residents sign up for the county’s active notification tool as well as the state’s MyTurn.ca.gov notification tool.

While Santa Clara County opted out of the state’s plan for Blue Shield of California to manage vaccinations statewide, Rogers said San Mateo is evaluating the agreement with Blue Shield to figure out what makes the most sense for the county.

“Our goal really is to ensure the maximum supply of vaccine to this county and to keep the pace of work moving forward without disruption of the vaccine effort locally,” Rogers said.

Since San Mateo County is not in the early phases of Blue Shield’s vaccine rollout, Rogers said they had some time to decide.

For more information on COVID-19 vaccination in San Mateo County, including vaccination data and the county’s notification tool, visit www.smchealth.org/covidvaccine.