San Francisco Bay Area issues stay-at-home order amid surging COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations


The health officers in six San Francisco Bay Area regions issued a new stay-at-home order Friday as the number of virus cases surge and hospitals fill.

The changes will take effect for most of the area at 10 p.m. PT on Sunday and last through Jan. 4.

The counties have not yet reached Gov. Gavin Newsom’s threshold announced a day earlier requiring such an order when 85 per cent of ICU beds at regional hospitals are full, but officials said the hospital system will be overwhelmed before the end of December when Newsom’s order would apply.

“We don’t think we can wait for the state’s new restrictions to go into effect later this month. This is an emergency,” said Contra Costa Health Officer Chris Farnitano.

The order came the same day the state recorded another daily record number of cases, with 22,018, and hospitalizations topped 9,000 for first time.

A serving wearing personal protective equipment walks past tables of people dining outdoors in Sausalito, Calif., on Friday. (Eric Risberg/The Associated Press)

It means restaurants will have to close indoor and outdoor dining, bars and wineries must close along with hair and nail salons and playgrounds.

Retail stores and shopping centres can operate with just 20 per cent customer capacity. Gatherings of any size with people outside of your household are banned.

Berkeley Health Officer Lisa Hernandez said people should not meet in person with anyone they don’t live with, “even in a small group, and even outdoors with precautions.”

“If you have a social bubble, it is now popped,” Hernandez said. “Do not let this be the last holiday with your family.”

The new stay-at-home order will cut sharply into the most profitable shopping season and threaten financial ruin for businesses already struggling after 10 months of on-again, off-again restrictions and slow sales because of the pandemic.

A person wearing a face covering is seen with the Painted Ladies, a row of historical Victorian homes, in the background in San Francisco on April 19. (Jeff Chiu/The Associated Press)

The five Bay Area counties, along with San Mateo County, were the first region in the country to order a lockdown on March 17 when the area of 7 million people had fewer than 280 cases and just three deaths.

San Mateo County officials were not part of the news conference Friday announcing the changes.

Officials said it was much easier to implement such an order regionally, since the Bay Area counties are so closely connected.

In Santa Clara County, the most populated in the region and home to 2 million residents and the headquarters of Apple and Google, officials previously banned all high school, collegiate and professional sports and imposed a quarantine for people travelling to the region from areas more than 241 kilometres away after officials began seeing an uptick in cases following Thanksgiving Day.

Compliance officers fanned out throughout the county on Thanksgiving Day and continue to visit business to make sure they follow capacity rules and other precautions.

All the counties, except for Marin, are in the most restrictive purple tier in the state’s pandemic blueprint for the economy, forcing most non-essential indoor activities to stop.

A sign on a bus advises that passengers are required to wear masks in San Francisco on Nov. 17. (Jeff Chiu/The Associated Press)

Public health officials have warned that the toll from Thanksgiving gatherings could start to swamp hospitals by Christmas.

In the last month, the state imposed restrictions in 52 of the state’s 58 counties, including asking people not to leave the state and implementing an overnight curfew for all but essential trips, such as getting groceries.

But it hasn’t worked because data shows people are ignoring the rules, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s top public health officer, acknowledged Thursday.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *