SAN MATEO COUNTY (CBS SF) – As new stay-at-home orders went into effect in several Bay Area counties, San Mateo County’s health officer explained why it is following the state’s guidelines instead.
In a lengthy statement posted Monday, health officer Dr. Scott Morrow raised several reasons why he has not signed on with neighboring counties in issuing stay-at-home orders preemptively.READ MORE: COVID: Bay Area Vaccine Hunters Help Those Eligible Struggling To Find Appointments
Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara counties, along with San Francisco and Berkeley are enacting shutdowns this week, even though ICU capacity in the Bay Area is above the 15% threshold to trigger a regional stay-at-home order. Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley are in the midst of three-week shutdowns after ICU capacity in those regions fell below 15%.
“Being in the purple tier, the State has already put significant restrictions on businesses and the public space in San Mateo County. I am aware of no data that some of the business activities on which even greater restrictions are being put into place with this new order are the major drivers of transmission,” Morrow said, raising concerns it could drive certain activities indoors, raising risk.
The health officer said he supported the original shelter-in-place orders back in March over concerns of exponential spread and that people were unaware of the effects of a new virus.
“What I believed back in May, and what I believe now, is the power and authority to control this pandemic lies primarily in your hands, not mine,” the health officer said.
Morrow also questioned the effectiveness of an order without having strict enforcement mechanisms.READ MORE: Twitter Sues Texas AG Over Alleged Retaliation For Banning Trump's Account After Capitol Riot
“I think people should stay at home, avoid all non-essential activities, wear masks, and not gather with anyone outside their households. I’ve been saying this for about 10 months now,” he said. “If you didn’t listen to my (and many others) entreaties before, I don’t think you’ll likely change your behavior based on a new order.”
County supervisor David Canepa is among those disagreeing with the decision, saying the time to shut down is now.
“We got to shelter in place. And as much as this troubles me, as much as this affects small businesses — it breaks my heart — but right now we have to focus on our community’s health,” Canepa told KPIX 5 over the weekend.
The health officer said the county would fully support a regional stay-at-home order if it is issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
While not enacting any stay-at-home orders on Monday, Morrow noted the coronavirus continues to remain a threat in San Mateo County, saying the chance of encountering the virus is much higher than a few weeks ago. “Right now, based on modeling data, there are an estimated 8-15,000 active cases in San Mateo County capable of transmitting the infection to others. These active infections are EV-ER-Y-where. Literally, they are in every corner of the County,” Morrow said.
County COVID-19 data posted this week shows three days last week where more than 200 new infections were reported. As of Sunday, there are 84 COVID patients in county hospitals, with 22 in the ICU.MORE NEWS: COVID Reopening: San Francisco Unified Reveals More Details Of April Reopening
Since the pandemic started, there have been at least 16,101 cases and 176 people who have died from COVID-19 in San Mateo County.