San Mateo County will not enforce Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest stay-at-home order that could impose new restrictions as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations surge.
Newsom on Thursday asked California residents living in regions where the ICU capacity fell below 15 per cent to shutter business operations and remain home for at least three weeks.
The order will formally take effect on Sunday, but San Mateo County officials broke rank with Newsom and other Bay Area counties.
‘Accordingly, while the County understands and appreciates the measures taken by the other Bay Area counties, San Mateo will not at this time be issuing a new local stay-at-home order and will continue to work with business and community leaders on adherence to existing guidelines,’ a press release stated.
Instead, the county will continue to adhere to California’s existing metrics and processes. San Mateo County is currently classified as a ‘purple tier’ region, which means it has ‘widespread’ cases and a high test positivity rate.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (pictured) asked regions to implement a new stay-at-home order for at least three weeks if ICU capacity fell below 15 per cent
Officials in San Mateo County announced on Saturday that they would not enforce the new stay-at-home order and would, instead, follow current guidelines
‘We know our residents have sacrificed and patience is growing thin, but we need you to know that you have the power to curb the spread and preserve hospital capacity for those who will need care in the coming weeks,’ said County Manager Michael Callagy.
‘We can get through this together if each of us takes action now to social distance, wear face coverings and avoid gatherings.’
San Mateo County, as of December 4, has recorded more than 15,000 confirmed cases and 176 deaths.
Hospitalizations in the county have spiked since the end of November, with 89 current Covid-19 patients admitted to medical centers and 20 in the ICU.
California has experienced a similar uptick in cases, deaths and hospitalizations. The Golden State has amassed more than 1.3million infections and 19,791 deaths.
Hospitalizations have reached 10,273, with 2.265 people currently admitted into an ICU. There are 7,881 ICU beds in the state.
Faced with a dire shortage of hospital beds, California’s San Joaquin Valley and the Southern California region were placed under a sweeping new lockdown.
Pictured: People drop their test kits into an intake receptacle at a Covid-19 testing site in the North Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Saturday
‘We acknowledge the reality of the pandemic fatigue that residents are experiencing and the need to find sources of support through this challenging period,’ said Louise Rogers, Chief of County Health.
‘Our collective focus must be on finding ways to support each other through this crisis safely while limiting gathering and adhering to face covering.’
County officials reiterated to residents that they should follow basic health guidelines – especially avoiding gatherings – to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Officials added that they will collaborate with neighboring Bay Area counties on coordinating available hospital capacity.
‘The measures we are taking emphasize individual and collective responsibility,’ said Dr. Scott Morrow, San Mateo County’s Health Officer, in the statement.
‘With the vaccine coming soon, now more than ever, this is a critical time to stay focused on the key behaviors that protect our communities.’
In a press release Wednesday, California officials said they expect the Bay Area’s ICU capacity to fall below 15 per cent as soon as mid-December.
Northern California, Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, the other four regions, could hit the threshold ‘within days.’
Northern California has 15 per cent of its ICU beds available, San Joaquin Valley has 22 per cent, Greater Sacramento has 24 per cent, Southern California has 26 per cent and the Bay Area has 28 per cent.
Other Bay Area counties, like Santa Clara, have already agreed to abide by the new stay-at-home order.
Server Cyrella Kassimis (left) helps diners Beth Spencer, center, and Tony Baptiste who are having lunch outdoors at Sutter Buttes Brewing in the Sutter County community of Yuba City
‘The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,’ Newsom said while announcing the order, which he called ‘Pulling an Emergency brake’, at a video press conference.
Infections have exploded in recent weeks to the point that the state is averaging 15,000 new cases a day and the positivity rate has more than doubled, reaching seven per cent in the two-week period ended Wednesday.
Newsom, who is quarantining at home after three of his children were exposed to the virus, warned earlier this week that he would take ‘drastic action’ if the numbers didn’t improve.
Much of the state, including Southern California, is on the brink of the same restrictions, and five counties in the San Francisco Bay Area have opted to impose them even before the state mandate kicks in
Public health officials have said the current figures don’t include the COVID-19 infections expected to arise from Thanksgiving holiday travel and gatherings.
Those cases probably will start showing up in hospitals around Christmas, experts say.
During Thursday’s press conference Newsom emphasized the state’s recent surge in coronavirus deaths – noting there were two consecutive days this week with a record 113 fatalities.
A month ago the state was reporting an average of less than 20 deaths per day.
Under the new order, regions that hit the 15 percent ICU capacity threshold will have two days to comply with restrictions, Newsom said.
Residents of those areas will be required to stay home as much as possible, with a blanket ban on nonessential gatherings, but they will be allowed to continue essential activities including seeking medical care and buying groceries.
People buy toilet papers and paper towels at a Costco Wholesale store as panic buying following the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Alhambra, California
The order also allows outdoor religious ceremonies and distanced outdoor exercise such as hiking.
It does not affect schools that have already reopened for in-person classes.
Retail businesses will be limited to 20 percent capacity while all playgrounds, salons and barbershops, museums, movie theaters, wineries, bars, casinos and amusement parks must close entirely.
‘We are at a tipping point in our fight against the virus and we need to take decisive action now to prevent California’s hospital system from being overwhelmed in the coming weeks,’ Newsom said.
‘I’m clear-eyed that this is hard on all of us – especially our small businesses who are struggling to get by.’
Newsom (pictured) on Covid-19: ‘The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed’
The governor and members of his office acknowledged that it won’t be easy for Californians to go back into isolation, but said locking down will give the state its best chance of curbing the spread of the virus.
‘We know what a struggle this pandemic has been for so many California families, but our actions have saved countless lives,’ Dr Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services Secretary, said in a written statement.
‘This targeted action will preserve vital ICU beds for people who need them – whether they’re COVID-19 patients or someone who has suffered a heart attack or a stroke.’
Newsom already ramped up restrictions a week before Thanksgiving, imposing a 10pm curfew on nonessential gatherings and business in counties that are in the purple tier of the state’s color-coded system for reopening the economy.
Fifty-one of the state’s 58 counties are currently in that tier, comprising more than 99 percent of the population.