Six Bay Area counties are extending their shelter-in-place orders through the end of May, lengthening efforts to contain the coronavirus.
Six Bay Area counties will extend their shelter-in-place orders through the end of May, officials announced Monday, saying the region has made progress in slowing the spread of the new coronavirus but that continued restrictions are necessary to avoid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.
The orders, first issued March 16, were set to expire May 3 in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Working in tandem, health officials in all six counties, along with the city of Berkeley, will announce the extension later this week along with more details, officials said in a news release.
The new order will largely keep the same restrictions in place but with “limited easing of specific restrictions for a small number of lower-risk activities,” officials said. No further details were provided.
While hospital admissions have leveled, lifting restrictions too early could cause a dramatic uptick in COVID-19 cases, they said.
“Thanks to the collective effort and sacrifice of the 7 million residents across our jurisdictions, we have made substantial progress in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus,” the seven health officers said in a statement.
“At this stage of the pandemic, however, it is critical that our collective efforts continue so that we do not lose the progress we have achieved together.”
Solano County has already extended its own shelter-in-place order through May 17. Napa County extended its order indefinitely last week but is allowing all construction, in-person real estate viewings and landscaping work to resume.
When first announced, the Bay Area’s order was the boldest containment measure anywhere in the United States but has since been replicated in nearly every state.
The initial order, set to last three weeks, was extended March 31. Officials clarified at the time that much outdoor activity, such as the use of playgrounds and recreational facilities, was banned but that some businesses such as real estate agencies, funeral homes and rental car companies were added to the list of essential services.
State goals remain unmet
Officials across California, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, have suggested that the state cannot lift restrictions until it makes more progress in its efforts to contain the new coronavirus. Last week, Newsom said the state still hasn’t met most of the six goals he set that would allow public life to restart, although hospital admissions had flattened enough for elective surgeries to resume.
Newsom last week pledged that the state would ramp up its efforts to meet the most important of its six goals: increasing its capacity to test for COVID-19 and tracing the contacts of people who test positive.
California, whose testing rate still lags behind dozens of other states, hopes to test 25,000 residents per day for COVID-19 by the end of April, Newsom said — up from its current rate of 16,000. Eventually, officials hope to test at least 60,000 people each day.
As for contact tracing — a crucial way for officials to understand how the virus is spreading — California hopes to train and deploy at team of 10,000 tracers, drawing from an existing pool of state workers.
The state’s other indicators included whether California had the means to protect its most vulnerable residents from contracting COVID-19, how well the state’s hospital systems can handle surges in patients, whether the state had developed new treatments for COVID-19 and if schools and businesses can maintain social distancing once they reopen.
This article was first published by Patch.