Solano County is likely to find itself under the statewide stay-at-home order in the next two weeks due to rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations throughout the Bay Area, the county’s health officer said Tuesday.
The county is receiving reports of around 130 cases per day, significantly more than the roughly 25 to 30 cases the county was observing per day in late summer and early fall, according to county Public Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas.
The county’s test positivity rate has also spiked in recent weeks, reaching 12.8 percent over the last seven days, Matyas told the county’s Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
“The primary driver at the moment, probably not surprisingly, is gatherings by family and friends during Thanksgiving,” Matyas said. “That has already begun to impact our county in terms of numbers and I anticipate it will continue to show an impact over the next week, week and a half.”
Solano County is one of about half the counties in the greater Bay Area that did not participate in the stay-at-home order issued Friday by health officers in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties and the city of Berkeley. Solano was also the last county in the region to issue a stay-at-home order at the outset of the pandemic.
The entire Bay Area region would be placed under the state’s stay-at-home order when intensive care unit capacity drops below 15 percent, regardless of if a singular county’s capacity is still higher than that figure. As of Tuesday, around 25 percent of ICU beds in the Bay Area were available.
The new order would require businesses like cardrooms, movie theaters, hair salons and museums to close entirely while restaurants could continue selling takeout and delivery orders only.
Matyas and the board have both expressed concerns about the economic effect that tightening health restrictions will have in the county. Matyas has also noted on multiple occasions that the county has not tied any large-scale coronavirus outbreaks to activities like outdoor or indoor dining at restaurants.
“The fact is that we have continued to show zero evidence that those business sectors are contributing in any way to the outbreak,” he said. “So, our hope is to preserve their integrity for as long as we possibly can.”
Supervisor John Spering said that while he agreed with some public speakers that a new stay-at-home order would infringe on business owners who are ostensibly operating in a safe way, he bristled at members of the public who blamed the board for the potential order.
“You’re blasting this board for something we have no control over,” he said, adding “I think a lot of our rights are being taken away, but I can’t do anything about it.” Matyas said the board could vote to enact a modified stay-at-home order to limit private gatherings but doing so may help very little. “We would, I think, need to at least acknowledge the fact that it is in many ways a symbolic indication of what we value and what we think is important,” Matyas said.
“But the indications throughout the state are that people are pretty routinely ignoring those instructions … So what I don’t want to do is give you the impression that if we do that, that we’re going to somehow be able to bring the disease rates under control,” he said.
The board ultimately chose not to do so.