County of Marin - News Releases - COVID-19 Status Update

For Immediate Release
April 20, 2021

Marin Remains in Orange Tier after Uptick in Cases

Testing associated with travel reveals COVID-19 vulnerabilities remain

San Rafael, CA – The State of California has confirmed that Marin County will remain in Tier 3 or “orange” status in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy a while longer. 

In general, for a county to advance to a less restrictive tier during the COVID-19 pandemic, it must (1) have been in the current tier for a minimum of three weeks; and (2) meet criteria for the next less restrictive tier for the prior two consecutive weeks.

While Marin had achieved the first seven days of the required two weeks of qualifying data to move into the less-restrictive yellow tier, it narrowly missed the mark due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

“This is what the Blueprint was designed to do, to ensure a county moves forward only when we see a reliable trend of decreased transmission,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer. “When a small uptick in cases is enough to keep us where we are, it’s a sign we’re not ready.”

The data in question includes cases for the week ending April 10, when there was an increase in testing related to spring break travel. While the increase in cases was not a large spike, it was enough to prevent Marin from graduating to the yellow Tier 4. As a result, the 14-day qualification period starts over, meaning the earliest Marin could move into yellow status is May 4.

As of April 20, 76% of Marin County residents aged 16 or older had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, placing Marin among the most highly vaccinated counties. However, Willis warned it’s too early to assume Marin has achieved community immunity.

“If people see relatively high community vaccination rates as a reason to let down their guard, they’re mistaken,” Willis said. “Children under 16 still remain unvaccinated and it takes about six weeks for newly vaccinated people to develop immunity. The fact is, we remain vulnerable to COVID-19 transmission and if we want to move forward, we have to be vigilant together.”

Public Health recommends wearing of face coverings, physical distancing, and frequent hand washing when in public, and to considering testing prior to, and quarantining after, travel outside of the Bay Area. Free, same-day COVID-19 testing is available across the county, and anyone who comes into frequent contact with members of the public should consider getting tested at least once a month. See Public Health’s testing webpage for a list of locations.

In addition, health officials are encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations as part of the pandemic-ending toolkit. Vaccinations are widely available throughout Marin, including some walk-up options. Make an appointment online at

In August 2020, the state introduced its Blueprint for a Safer Economy, a four-tier framework by which counties are measured for loosening and tightening restrictions on social activities and business operations. Sectors of business can progressively open more operations with moves up the list toward the final stage, yellow Tier 4. The California Department of Public Health assigns each county to a tier on a weekly basis based on two county-level factors: the total number of new cases, and the percent of new cases among those tested.

Follow the latest COVID-19 surveillance figures in Marin on the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) websiteRegister online to receive a daily COVID-19 update from Marin HHS.

VIDEO: Dr. Matt Willis explains the concept of herd immunity and what it means for Marin County.


Laine Hendricks
Public Information Officer
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite #325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7496
Email: Laine Hendricks
County Administrator website