Contra Costa County, California – Health officials from Contra Costa joined 4 other Bay Area counties to follow much of the state with a new Stay-At-Home order. The County’s order takes effect Sunday night.
The new order comes despite the fact that the Bay Area COVID-19 Region is still above the threshold which requires the rules to take effect. On Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a statewide policy: a region must close down if its ICU bed capacity falls below 15%. The Bay Area Region, consisting of Contra Costa, Monterey, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda, Marin, San Mateo, Solano, Sonoma and Napa Counties, currently has ICU capacity above 15%. However, on Friday, health officials decided not to wait until reaching that point.
“We cannot wait until after we have driven off the cliff to pull the emergency brake,” said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.
“We are seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations here in Contra Costa County and across our region,” said Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Christopher Farnitano. “The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in our county has doubled in just the past couple of weeks. We are at risk of exceeding our hospital capacity later this month if current trends continue.”
“It takes several weeks for new restrictions to slow rising hospitalizations. Waiting until only 15 percent of a region’s ICU beds are available is just too late,” said San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragon. “Many heavily impacted parts of our region already have less than 15 percent of ICU beds available. The time to act is now.”
The new Stay-At-Home order is similar to last spring’s lockdown, but some modifications came out of that previous experience. The order bars nonessential gatherings. It requires people to stay at home except for essential activities such as going to the doctor. Grocery shopping or picking up take-out meals is allowed as well. Distanced outdoor exercise such as hiking and biking are permitted. Outdoor religious ceremonies may also continue
Retail stores may continue operating at 20% capacity. Private and charter schools that have re-opened for in-person classes may remain open.
However, playgrounds, indoor recreation facilities, hair salons, bars, casinos, museums, zoos, aquariums, and movie theaters must cease operations. Sports events with live audiences and amusement parks must also close.
Consistent with the State’s framework, health officials want to ensure that all sectors have at least 48 hours notice of these closures. Most Bay Area health officers will implement the State’s Regional Stay-At-Home Order as of Sunday December 6. In Alameda County, the order takes effect on Monday, December 7. Marin County’s order take effect Tuesday, December 8. The new restrictions will remain in place until January 4, 2021.