Health Officers caution that reducing restrictions too quickly could lead to a substantial resurgence of COVID-19
San Rafael, CA –The seven Bay Area Public Health Officers who ordered a Shelter-In-Place in mid-March will extend the orders through May 31 while some restrictions are eased and tools to strengthen containment of COVID-19 are put into place. The social distancing intervention has slowed the increase of new cases and prevented the anticipated medical surge. As restrictions are eased, it is critical to ensure that growth of cases can be sufficiently contained to protect the health and safety of our community.
Marin County is included among the jurisdictions extending the Shelter-In-Place order. In addition, Marin County will also extend its Public Health Orders surrounding Park Closures and Restrictions on Use of Short-Term Rental Orders. All three orders take effect Monday, May 4. Marin’s Public Health Order concerning use of face coverings does not presently have an end date and will remain in place until further notice.
Under the new Shelter-In-Place order, construction activities, certain businesses that operate primarily outdoors, and some outdoor activities will be allowed to resume with specific conditions. The new Shelter-In-Place order covers everyone living or working in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara as well as the City of Berkeley, an independent public health jurisdiction, with minor variations among jurisdictions.
As of April 28, 2020, there are 7,273 confirmed cases (up from 258 confirmed cases on March 15, 2020) and 266 deaths (up from 4 deaths on March 15, 2020) in the seven Bay Area jurisdictions jointly issuing this Order. For Marin, there are 224 cases (up from 9 cases on March 15, 2020) and 12 deaths (up from 0 on March 15, 2020).
This next phase reflects regional progress, thanks to the collective action Bay Area residents have taken since mid-March in response to Health Officer shelter-in-place orders.
“We can only take these first steps because of you, our community, and the way we came together, to agree to shelter at home,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer said in a video statement. “The sacrifices you’ve made have saved lives and flattened the curve so far. We are in phase one of this epidemic. Dramatic measures to halt uncontrolled spread have been successful though painful for all of us and our economy.”
This initial, measured easing of some restrictions is designed to set the stage for a gradual resumption of activity and prevent rapid, exponential growth of cases that could overwhelm hospitals for a particular jurisdiction or the region as a whole.
Under the new orders, all construction projects will be allowed to resume as long as the project complies with safety protocols included with the order. All real estate transactions will also now be able to resume, but with continued restrictions on open houses and limitations on in-person viewings. Any employee allowed to return to work at a facility can also access childcare programs that can operate.
Certain outdoor businesses can also begin operating again, and people can visit those businesses to perform work or obtain goods, services, or supplies. This includes wholesale and retail nurseries, landscapers, gardeners, and other businesses that primarily provide outdoor services as set forth in the order. Outdoor businesses do not include restaurants, cafes or bars, regardless of whether they have outdoor seating.
Other activities that can resume under the new order include residential moves and the use of certain shared outdoor recreational facilities that were previously ordered closed, like skate parks, but not others that involve shared equipment or physical contact.
These orders are generally consistent with the state’s Shelter-In-Place order. On any issue where the local and state orders may differ, the stricter order applies.
“These changes reflect that the Shelter-In-Place order is not a on off switch,” Willis said. “The number of activities we can engage in — while the general rule is we are remaining sheltered at home — will increase slowly and sequentially over time. The number of businesses that may come back online, and when, is based on the ability for them to conduct business safely for both customers and employees.”
Finding a Path Forward for Marin’s Economy
To navigate the process of measured reopening, the County of Marin is launching an effort that will be known as Marin Recovers Industry Advisors. The effort will bring health care leaders, government, and industry together to work collaboratively to continually re-evaluate orders based on the status of the epidemic and Marin County’s capacity to move forward safely. Industry work groups will advise and develop standards to safely resume work, with public health guidance, across 11 specific sectors. To set expectations, the governor has indicated the rebuilding process will occur over months and not weeks.
Indicators to help assess progress on containing COVID-19
The regional group of Health Officers are also releasing indicators that will be used to measure progress in containing the virus and ensuring we have the infrastructure in place to protect the community from COVID-19. These indicators will be critical to decisions in the coming weeks and months about when and how to ease shelter-in-place restrictions.
The indicators include:
- Whether the total number of cases in the community is flat or decreasing;
- Whether the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 is flat or decreasing;
- Whether there is an adequate supply of personal protective equipment for all health care workers;
- Whether we are meeting the need for testing, especially for persons in vulnerable populations or those in high-risk settings or occupations; and
- Whether we have the capacity to investigate all COVID-19 cases and trace all of their contacts, isolating those who test positive and quarantining the people who may have been exposed.
“Some may feel we’re moving too quickly, especially as we see more cases of COVID 19, which we expect to some degree,” continued Dr. Willis. “Others will feel we’re moving too slowly. Our role is to find the balance, using the best available science, and with the guidance and partnership our businesses our educators, our elected leaders and you our community.”
Follow me on Twitter – @MelanieNathan1
Check out my Instagram: Commissionermelnathan
My websites: www.AfricanHRC.org