While five Bay Area counties got a head start with shutting down businesses and outdoor dining earlier this week, and Sonoma issued its order effective Saturday, the three remaining holdout counties in the Bay Area are likely get new shutdown orders from the governor next week.
Governor Gavin Newsom detailed the state’s latest framework based on regional ICU capacity on December 3, and at the time he said the Bay Area would likely not hit the threshold of 15% ICU bed availability for a week or two. As of Friday, as KRON4 reports, the region hit 16% ICU availability — meaning that 84% of the region’s intensive care unit space is currently filled — and that means that the counties that haven’t issued individual orders shutting down personal-care businesses, gyms, wineries, bars, and dining, and limiting retail capacity to 20%, will have to do so by state mandate any day now.
Also included in the Bay Area under the state’s rubric are Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, making the usual nine-county region into an 11-county region for these purposes.
In issuing San Francisco’s order eight days ago, Mayor London Breed said that “If we wait one or two weeks [until the region hits 15%], it will just mean our numbers will be higher,” and added, “If you’re not staying ahead of this virus, you’re falling behind very quickly.”
But in contrast, the health officer in the county directly to the south of SF, San Mateo County, issued a statement Monday explaining why he wasn’t issuing a similar order and joining SF, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and Santa Clara County in their joint order. “I share the intent of the State and my Bay Area colleagues, which is, during this surge, you should be staying at home as much as possible,” said Dr. Scott Morrow. “[But] 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.”
Morrow said that if the region hit 85% ICU occupancy and the state ordered all counties to abide by the stay-at-home order, he would of course comply. But he questioned the logic of the state’s data framework as he has before, and noted, “Many hospitals have not yet made the basic internal policy decision of canceling elective procedures.”
Meanwhile, San Francisco and San Mateo just had one of their worst weeks in the pandemic to date when it comes to the total number of new cases recorded — and a spike in new cases will translate to a spike in hospitalizations within 10 to 14 days, experts say. On Saturday, San Mateo added 548 new cases for a total of 17,724 — and this week it is catching up rapidly to likely overtake San Francisco in total cumulative cases. Also on Saturday, San Francisco added 323 new cases, and the past two days have seen the city’s highest single-day case counts since the pandemic began (with 307 new cases added Friday).
Solano County, which has also resisted issuing a stay-at-home order before the state does, saw a four-day uptick of nearly 900 cases this week. And Napa County, where case numbers have remained very low for much of the last nine months, has added over 700 new cases since last Friday.
As one hair salon owner in San Mateo County tells KRON4, it doesn’t seem entirely fair that retail businesses can stay open but he can’t. “I’ve already been operating at 20% capacity for months, we’ve already been shut down 4 months this year. A shutdown would be so detrimental for me and my team.”
While the stay-at-home orders are greatly impacting the profitability of many businesses around the Bay, life has not ground to complete halt — and some people are even still finding ways to eat outside. Even though outdoor dining was prohibited across much of the Bay Area starting Monday, over a dozen restaurants in Danville, in Contra Costa County, are opening flouting the health order in protest. And as the Chronicle reports, San Franciscans have been spotted in restaurants’ parklets eating from to-go containers all week, whether the restaurants condone this or not.
In a sort of “loophole,” Original Joe’s in North Beach was seen letting customers eat takeout meals outside at tables under heat lamps this week.