Solano County is currently the only one in the nine-county Bay Area not to issue a shelter-in-place order, after Napa and Sonoma Counties followed suit with six other Bay Area counties in the last 24 hours. The Solano County health officer, Dr. Bela Matyas, is taking a less prescriptive approach.
As he says in a YouTube video posted Tuesday, he believes that most of the necessary social distancing people should be doing was covered in Governor Newsom's orders on Sunday, and the local officials' orders are causing people to "overreact." He suggests that people can go to work in open-plan offices because cubicles provide a sufficient amount of social distancing. And he says people can socialize with six feet of distance between them, less if they're not coughing.
Furthermore, he's calling out all the Bay Area leaders who described their orders as "shelter in place."
"For those of you familiar with the concept of 'shelter in place,' it's used in situations when it's dangerous to go outside because the air is dangerous," Matyas says. "Sheltering in place is really not the right terminology to be using for what [are] really social distancing orders."
A lot of people are going to argue with Matyas on this one because — yes — technically speaking we haven't been told to shelter in place 24-7. BUT, the eight other Bay Area counties took the added step beyond the governor's orders to tell people to further isolate — and when you're dealing with a city of near 900,000 residents, it's a little more difficult to maintain social distance if everyone is still moving around as usual!
As the Chronicle reports as of 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, Matyas appears to be caving and will issue a "shelter at home" order just to be difficult about it.
Solano County, which is home to Vacaville, Fairfield, Dixon, Travis Air Force Base, and Vallejo, has an estimated population of 445,000 — similar in size to Sonoma County. Travis Air Force Base was the quarantine location of several groups of American citizens from China and the Diamond Princess cruise ship, and it was the location of the earliest confirmed Bay Area case of community spread of the virus in late February — a woman who tested positive for COVID-19 without any known contact with another case in Vacaville, and likely exposed multiple healthcare workers to the virus. Currently, Solano County has eight confirmed cases (seven besides that woman in February).
We'll see if Solano County caves to the pressure after New York and Chicago institute similar orders.