SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Bay Area health officials in eight local jurisdictions on Tuesday officially extended the current coronavirus stay-at-home order through May 3 and added new restrictions in the hopes of curbing the coronavirus spread and preserving hospital capacity across the region.
The new stay-at-home order for Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Sonoma and Santa Clara counties, as well as the city of Berkeley, supersedes the previous order when it goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31. Officials said it is a complement to the indefinite statewide stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this month.
Officials said that while the prior order has been effective in reducing the rate of transmission of COVID-19, it is not enough. Among the new restrictions being added include the closure of all dog parks, playgrounds and recreational facilities like tennis and basketball courts as well as essential businesses developing strict social distancing protocols that will be carefully detailed and enforced.
Sonoma County was the latest to extend their public health order on Tuesday night.
The new order adds to the list of activities people may undertake outside their home as well as clarifies guidance from the previous order.
“This extension and new requirements align Sonoma County with the vital precautions being taken throughout the state and region to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Sonoma County Public Health Officer, Dr. Sundari Mase. “Staying safely at home and physical distancing are scientifically-proven to be the most effective methods to slow the transmission of COVID-19 and keep our communities healthy.”
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
There has been a significant increase in the number of positive cases, hospitalization and deaths from coronavirus, particularly in Santa Clara County, which is beginning to strain health care resources.
The Santa Clara County Public Health Department held a press conference Tuesday to provide some of the details about the stricter social distancing needed to further slow the rate of spread, prevent deaths, and stop the health care system from becoming overwhelmed.
Santa Clara County Public Health Director Dr. Sara Cody confirmed the county’s coronavirus cases had risen to 890, while the number of deaths climbed to 30.
“Every unnecessary contact with another person increases the chance that the virus may spread,” Cody said. “The stay-at-home order has caused social and economic hardship for everyone, but if we stay the course, we will save lives.”
Cody did say there was a bit of a slowing in the spread of infections that was starting to bend the curve, but that it still wasn’t enough.
“What I can tell you though once we account for all those variables — maybe in the last day or two — we are seeing a little bit of slowing,” Cody said. “I say that very, very cautiously. It’s really, really early and as [county health official] Dr. Smith mentioned, it’s going to take us more time to see the impact of social distancing.”
Like the previous local order, the new order requires people to stay at home except for doing essential activities, such as grocery shopping. Non-essential businesses will remain closed, but the social distancing requirements for essential businesses have been made more stringent.
“Social distancing is now mandatory when performing essential activities or operating essential businesses,” said Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams.
“Let’s be really mindful that every interaction that we have with another person could put them at risk and it could put your families at risk,” said Santa Clara County Board Of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez.
The new order gives some clarifying language around essential business and activities, in addition to some new directives, including:
- Use of playgrounds, dog parks, public picnic areas, and similar recreational areas is prohibited. These areas must be closed to public use.
- Use of shared public recreational facilities such as golf courses, tennis and basketball courts, pools, and rock walls is prohibited. These facilities must be closed for recreational use.
- Sports requiring people to share a ball or other equipment must be limited to people in the same household.
- Requires essential businesses to develop a social distancing protocol and post information on the protocol by April 3. The new order provides a template for businesses to follow.
- Most construction — residential and commercial — is prohibited.
- Funerals limited to no more than 10 people attending; all attendees must maintain social distancing.
- Essential businesses expanded to include service providers that enable residential transactions (notaries, title companies, realtors, etc.); funeral homes and cemeteries; moving companies, rental car companies and rideshare services that specifically enable essential activities.
- Essential businesses that continue to operate facilities must scale down operations to their essential component only.
Officials reiterated that social distancing is the most powerful tool to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“What we need now, for the health of all our communities, is for people to stay home,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. “Even though it has been difficult, the Bay Area has really stepped up to the challenge so far, and we need to reaffirm our commitment. We need more time to flatten the curve, to prepare our hospitals for a surge, and to do everything we can to minimize the harm that the virus causes to our communities.”
At Heather Farms in Walnut Creek, signs were already in place discouraging people from coming out and using areas where they might have contact with others. People admit, it hasn’t been easy but now they’re being asked to continue this way of life for at least 30 more days.
For many in the Bay Area, three weeks of sheltering at home has been grueling, especially for the kids.
Bilal Intezar from Walnut Creek says, “It’s been really tough and boring to stay at home.” Patrick Batres from Walnut Creek agrees. “It’s sad because you don’t get to play,” he said.
Juliet Sokolowski, a parent from Clayton says this didn’t catch her by surprise. ”I was kind of prepared for it.”
“If it remains like this, I think it’s doable. If it gets much stricter, that would be a problem,” she said.
In San Ramon, dog owners will have to take their pooches elsewhere despite following the social distancing orders.
“We keep our distance and usually at this park only a couple people show up at a time. We do the social distancing, 6 feet apart,” said Cyndy Spiller.