2 Bay Area Counties to Tweak COVID-19 Data, Guidelines

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Health officials in Contra Costa and Sonoma counties announced Monday that they will tweak some details about their local novel coronavirus data and guidelines to better reflect information from state officials.

Contra Costa County will make changes to its social distancing health order, effective at 8 a.m. Wednesday, that will allow a handful of businesses like racetracks and cardrooms to resume operating outdoors.

Professional sports will also be allowed to resume in the county without fans.

The county plans to modify its reopening guidelines to bring them in line with the state's, which county officials say will streamline the reopening process and make it simpler for business owners to know when they can reopen and in what fashion.

Sonoma County will alter the methodology it has used to record and report the number of COVID-19 tests conducted locally as well as the county's rate of positive tests. Sonoma County's local coronavirus data has differed, at times, from the data collected by the California Department of Public Health.

According to the county, the coding methodology used to tabulate test data has unintentionally undercounted people taking multiple tests, underestimating the number of tests performed across Sonoma County each day.

Local officials sought to clear up the data collection issues due to the state's new metrics for reopening business sectors amid the pandemic. The metrics include new cases per 100,000 residents and the test positivity rate.

Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said that while fixing the data collection glitch will show a retroactively higher testing volume and decrease in positivity rate countywide, the change will not suddenly vault the county into a new section of the state's color-coded, tiered reopening system, allowing more industries to resume operating.

"It's the state's numbers, not the local ones, that determined whether Sonoma County was on the watchlist and, later, where we would be grouped under the governor's new four-tier plan," she said.

Information on each county's coronavirus data and public health guidelines can be found at for Sonoma County and for Contra Costa County.

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