Bay Area Eases Restrictions with Latest Shelter-in-Place Order

Bay Area health officials have eased some restrictions in the latest shelter-in-place order that’s aimed at curbing the coronavirus outbreak.

The new mandate—which applies to Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Marin and San Francisco counties, along with the city of Berkeley—will allow construction, real estate transactions and certain outdoor businesses to resume as long as they comply with safety and social distancing protocols. 

The order goes into effect May 4 and is set to last through May 31. 

“Outdoor businesses and activities likely pose lower risk of Covid-19, especially where there’s strict social distancing,” Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams said at a Wednesday morning news conference. 

Nurseries, landscapers, gardeners and childcare programs for essential workers where there are less than 12 children will all be able to operate under the new order, according to Williams. Other recreational outdoor activities and facilities that were previously barred—like skate parks—can also reopen as long as the activity doesn’t “involve shared equipment or physical contact.”

Williams, however, warned that some businesses, like golf courses, that fall into these categories won’t be allowed to reopen because of the state order. 

“We must all abide by both the local health orders and the state health orders,” he said. “That means whichever is stricter controls.” 

Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said the latest order is designed to “preserve the progress that we’ve made.” She noted that on Feb. 4, Santa Clara County had two of 11—or 18 percent—of the confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country. Six weeks later, the county accounts for less than 5 percent of cases in the state and an even smaller fraction of the more than 1 million cases in the U.S. 

“My point here is to just remind us all here at Santa Clara County we got something of a head start in this pandemic,” she said. “But through gradual and collective actions, starting with voluntary working from home and culminating in sheltering in place for the last 6 weeks, we have slowed the spread, flattened the curve, preserved our hospital capacity and prevented many many deaths.” 

While the county is moving toward loosening restrictions, Dr. Cody warned that, “if we move too fast to ease restrictions, the potential for exponential spread could have grave impacts to the health and wellness of our residents, as well as to our economy.” 

Bay Area health officials have also created a list of indicators to measure the progress of the containment of the coronavirus and make decisions about easing restrictions in the near future. 

The indicators include:

  • If the total number of cases is flat or decreasing.
  • If the number of hospitalizations is flat or decreasing.
  • If there is adequate hospital capacity to meet the need of the county's nearly 2 million residents.
  • If there is an adequate supply of personal protective equipment for health care workers.
  • If the county is conducing wide-spread testing, especially in vulnerable populations or those working in high-risk fields.
  • If health officials have the ability and capacity to conduct contact tracing, isolate new cases and quarantine individuals who might have been exposed.

“We don’t have a date we can go back to our normal lives,” Dr. Cody said. “What I can tell you is given the fact that we don’t have a vaccine—a vaccine is a very long way off—given the fact that we know that our population in large is at risk, we are going to have protections in place for a very very long time.”

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

10 Comments

  1. > Construction, landscaping, . . .

    A no brainer.

    > Not golf . . .

    Utterly brainless,

    What about beaches?

    Sunshine (vitamin D), warm temperatures, fresh air, sand . . . ALL inhospitable for coronavirus.

  2. The Bay Area counties continue to apply the wrong criteria to these closures, at enormous economic cost.

    The criteria should be that (1) essential businesses should remain open if at all possible and (2) businesses that can and do operate safely may remain open, with social distancing and masking as necessary.

    The fact that after two months the Bay Area’s county and city of Berkeley health directors haven’t budged from the wrong criterion—that only businesses they think are essential (including liquor stores, of all things) may remain open—is more evidence that they are poorly positioned to decide matters outside their area of immediate expertise. After this ends, their role should be reexamined.

    I know of no better summary of the absurdities and contradictions than those posted by a Portuguese woman on her Facebook page. This translation is with help from Microsoft Bing Translate:

    « New guidelines …

    Here are the official coronavirus guidelines:

    1. Basically, you can’t leave the house for any reason, but if it’s necessary, you can.

    2. Masks are useless. But they will protect you. They can save you, they can’t, they’re useless, but use one anyway. Now they’re mandatory. But maybe. Or not.

    3. Shops are closed, except those that are open.

    4. You should not go to the hospital unless you need to go there. Don’t go to the ER unless you’re having a medical emergency, then fine.

    5. This virus is deadly, but still not very scary, except that it sometimes leads to a global disaster. Just stay calm.

    6. Gloves don’t help, but they can still help. Especially if you use the same pair for hours and wherever you go, then it won’t spread germs, no.

    7. Everyone needs to stay at home, but it is important to leave because of the sun. Sunlight kills the virus, but not if the virus kills you first walking under sunlight, where you may be exposed to the virus.

    8. There is no shortage of groceries in the supermarket, but there are many things missing when you go there at night, but not in the morning. Sometimes.

    9. The virus does not affect children except those that it has affected or will affect.

    10. The animals are not affected, but there is still a cat that tested positive in Belgium in February when no one had been tested yet, and a tiger … and a really deadly bat, but also possibly fictional, but very sick.

    11. You will have many symptoms when you are sick, but you may also experience symptoms, symptoms without being sick, or being contagious without symptoms.

    12. In order not to get sick, you need to eat well and exercise, but also never go to the supermarket. So eat processed crap and stay inside your four walls, but also stay healthy.

    13. It is better to take fresh air, but you can be trapped if you are getting fresh air the wrong way and, most importantly, do not go to a park, the fresh air is deadly.

    14. Under no circumstances should you go to nursing homes, but if you need to take care of the elderly and bring food and medicine, that’s fine. Just wear gloves. The same ones. All day long.

    15. If you are sick, you cannot leave, but you can go to the pharmacy to get your medications. Just don’t make eye contact, as you can spread your disease this way.

    16. You can bring food from restaurant to home, which may have been prepared by people who did not wear masks or gloves. But you have to leave your shopping outside for 3 hours to be decontaminated by fresh air, which can also have virus particles floating in it.

    17. Apparently, taxi drivers are immune to the virus because you can still take a taxi with a random taxi driver. Just don’t take the cab to your mother’s house because you know. Stay away from your mother.

    18. You can walk with a friend if you stay six feet apart, but don’t visit him with your family if they don’t live under the same roof as you. Even if you’re already locked up for two months. You may still have the virus and you don’t know it yet. You’ll find out. Wait another week. Wasn’t it that week? It could be next time. Keep waiting.

    19. You are safe if you keep the appropriate social distance, but you cannot go out with friends or strangers at a safe social distance. Social distancing means you shouldn’t leave the house and it’s not social, except that you can go to the liquor store, but don’t socialize there while you’re socially distant.

    20. The virus remains active on different surfaces for two hours, no, four, no, six, no, we didn’t say hours, maybe days? But it takes a humid environment. Or not, not necessarily.

    21. The virus remains in the air – well, no, or yes, maybe, especially in a closed room, in an hour a sick person can infect ten; therefore probably all of our children have already been infected at school before being closed…. But remember, if you stay at the recommended social distance … however, under certain circumstances, keep a longer distance because, according to studies, the virus can travel more, perhaps.

    22. We count the number of deaths, but we don’t know how many people are infected, because we have only tested so far those who were “almost dead” to find out if that’s what they’re going to die of.

    23. The virus will only disappear if we achieve collective immunity … but we will remain separated and unable to acquire herd immunity until the virus disappears.

    Well, that pretty much clears things up… »

  3. I walk almost every day in Willow Glen. Mow & blow gardeners have never stopped working in my neighborhood. Few speak English, all speak Spanish, and the vast majority are probably here illegally. I guess they fall under the snowflake sanctuary exception.

  4. The original objective was to prevent our county medical systems from being overwhelmed. The peak of the surge was 2 April and the county medical system even then had enough empty beds that even if the surge had been twice a great the medical systems would not have been overwhelmed. Great. And in the following three weeks COVID-19 hospitalizations have declined by over 40%.

    Dr. Cody has added “new indicators” for making decisions. That is “mission creep”. We should stick to the original objective and decide what businesses can we open now, today that will not risk overwhelming our medical system?

    The SCC Public Health Dash Board is an excellent daily presentation of county data related to the virus such as deaths, hospitalization and unused ventilators. However, there is no similar Dash Board on the economy of the county showing number of unemployed, number of businesses closed, or county GDP. Do Dr. Colby, Jeff Smith or the county supervisors know the number of unemployed people there are in Santa Clara County?

  5. Saddest thing in the world is that everything is upside down: Health Czar Sara Cody should have to tell us why a lockdown is necessary given the County dashboard data: 56.23% of acute beds are available; 99.27% of surge beds are available. Yet, we have continuation of a lockdown for another month. This is a sick joke on the populace suffering from economic, physical and mental stagnation (including, cruelest of all, children and the elderly. Of course, the bureaucrats don’t have to worry, they can come to work and get a paycheck, they’re not isolated.)

    This morning, Cody got on stage and failed to explain, yet again, why even a single more day of lockdowns is necessary. Then she laid out 5 supposed metrics. But the metrics are fake. We know that because it’s entirely up to her to decide when the appropriate milestones have been met. She won’t define them now—what is she afraid of? That we will be able to hold her to them?

    Here is what she should have said given that there is no capacity issue: “I’m gradually opening up the economy now. If I see a capacity issue, we’ll revisit in 2 weeks. Otherwise, every 2 weeks we’ll re-open more and more.” The default state should be normal life, not shut down like rats in a trap.

    NOW: The goalposts have been enlarged from hospital capacity to “testing, testing, testing.” Why should we care about testing the population? Do we EVER affirmatively test the population for every possible infection? NO. We worry about it if our hospitals will be overwhelmed. They clearly will not be overwhelmed because right now, we have plenty of capacity. We have always had capacity all through this crisis. SO WHY THE LOCKDOWN?

    And lest you think that Santa Clara is easing: It is not. This lockdown continues for an entire month. Not two weeks. An. ENTIRE. MONTH. By then, the kids’ school year will be finished, summer camps will have fled, and everything that makes our downtowns special will be destroyed.

    Board of Supervisors: Simitian, Cortese, Chavez, Ellenberg, Wasserman: Where are you? Asleep? AWOL? Don’t care enough to ask hard questions? Enjoying your time at home? Which is it — because it is certainly NOT helping your constituents.

  6. > Williams, however, warned that some businesses, like golf courses, that fall into these categories won’t be allowed to reopen because of the state order.

    I SUPPORT A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE . . . TO PLAY GOLF1

  7. Youtube is deleting an analysis from Dr. Erikson in California on why the shutdown is not necessary. He is using data and explaining how to compare Covid19 with other flus.

    • > Youtube is deleting an analysis from Dr. Erikson in California on why the shutdown is not necessary.

      Really quite a scandal.

      Who owns YouTube?

      Answer: Google.

      What else does Google own?

      Answer: LOTS and LOTS of real estate in Santa Clara County and San Jose. It also likely owns LOTS and LOTS of local politicians.

      Has the coronavirus crisis been good for Google?

      Answer: “Google’s business grows despite coronavirus, hiring slowdown”.

      https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Google-s-business-grows-despite-coronavirus-15232161.php

      “Google’s parent company, Alphabet, reported on Tuesday first-quarter profit of $6.84 billion and a 13% increase in revenue to $41.2 billion compared with the prior year, signs of strength despite the coronavirus.”

      Follow da munny.

      Google doesn’t like for doctors to say that the shutdown is unnecessary..

      Businesses that are shut down STILL pay Google for their ad searches, If they stop, they lose their search ranking!

  8. Hmmm. Just wondering.

    What do local governments make money on?

    > —will allow construction, real estate transactions and certain outdoor businesses

    What do local governments NOT make money on?

    > some businesses, like golf courses,

    Follow da munny.

  9. Official State of California rules on permitted outdoor recreation activities:

    https://covid19.ca.gov/stay-home-except-for-essential-needs/#outdoor

    Outdoor recreation

    It’s okay to go outside to go for a walk, to exercise, and participate in healthy activities as long as you maintain a safe physical distance of six feet and gather only with members of your household. Below is a non-exhaustive list of those outdoor recreational activities.

    *Parks may be closed to help slow the spread of the virus. Check with local officials about park closures in your area.

    Athletics
    Badminton (singles)
    Throwing a baseball/softball
    BMX biking
    Canoeing (singles)
    Crabbing
    Cycling
    Exploring Rock Pools
    Gardening (not in groups)
    Golf (singles, walking – no cart)
    Hiking (trails/ paths allowing distancing)
    Horse Riding (singles)
    Jogging and running
    Kite Boarding and Kitesurfing
    Meditation
    Outdoor Photography
    Picnics (with your stay-home household members only)
    Quad Biking
    Rock Climbing
    Roller Skating and Roller Blading
    Rowing (singles)
    Scootering (not in groups)
    Skateboarding (not in groups)
    Soft Martial Arts – Tai Chi, Chi Kung (not in groups)
    Table Tennis (singles)
    Throwing a football, kicking a soccer ball (not in groups)
    Trail Running
    Trampolining
    Tree Climbing
    Volleyball (singles)
    Walk the dog
    Wash the car
    Watch the sunrise or sunset
    Yoga

    Have fun! By yourself. But not too much fun.

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