Health officers from seven Bay Area jurisdictions — six counties and the City of Berkeley — are collaborating on a joint extension of shelter-in-place orders to be announced later this week, extending current orders through the month of May.
As most of you know, the current shelter-in-place order, which we all knew would likely be extended, expires on Sunday, May 3. In a release issued Monday, the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin confirm that sheltering orders will be extended "through May," with some loosening of specific restrictions still to be announced.
"Thanks to the collective effort and sacrifice of the 7 million residents across our jurisdictions, we have made substantial progress in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, ensuring our local hospitals are not overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, and saving lives," the statement reads. "At this stage of the pandemic, however, it is critical that our collective efforts continue so that we do not lose the progress we have achieved together."
The seven health officers promise the release of "a set of broad indicators that will be used to track progress in preparedness and response to COVID-19," and these will likely include benchmarks for testing, progress in treatment of the disease, and specific decreases in the number of new cases and hospitalizations.
"Hospitalizations have leveled," they write, "but more work is needed to safely re-open our communities. Prematurely lifting restrictions could easily lead to a large surge in cases... As effective as our efforts have been, if we move too fast to ease restrictions, the potential of exponential spread could have grave impacts to health and wellness of our residents as well as the economy."
It remains to be seen which "lower-risk activities" will be given some exemptions under the revised orders, but the health officers say there will be just "a small number."
Last week, Napa County loosened restrictions on golf courses and real estate showings, as an example.
Also, the video below explains the four-phased reopening of the economy that is likely to happen in many jurisdictions like ours — it's a kind of best-practices guide that has been worked on by mathematicians and public health officials in order to try to flatten the curve through the fall and winter.
Solano County's health officer, who's tended to go his own way since the beginning of this thing, just extended that county's sheltering order to May 17. Sonoma County, which was the first in the Bay Area to mandate face masks, will likely issue its own order in the coming days.
Two weeks ago, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the May 3 date was likely going to be fluid, and statewide sheltering orders will likely be extended as well.
Over the weekend, the Bay Area recorded only two new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the total to 261, while Los Angeles County recorded 66 new deaths and over 1,000 new cases over the same two-day span.
There have been over 7,600 cumulative cases in the Bay Area to date, and of those, 3.4 percent have died, and just under 450 are currently hospitalized. (See all current Bay Area data here.)
Photo: Kora Manheimer/SFist