San Mateo County leaders were the first to break shelter orders across the bay area on Wednesday, saying they will follow looser state rules that allow some businesses to open weekdays instead next, including offices and shopping centers with curbside pickup. Later on Wednesday, Mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, announced a similar plan to allow most retail stores to open on Monday.
Meanwhile, Alameda county officials blinked in their showdown with Tesla CEO Elon Musk over the company’s re-opening of the Fremont plant, allowing the automaker to speed up operations this week, the county said wider loosening of restrictions may begin soon.
In Santa Clara County, however, director of public health Sara Cody said she plans to meet strict shelter guidelines on the ground, going beyond mandates set by the governor of the California, Gavin Newsom. And Contra Costa county officials have not announced any plans to change their public health orders, saying the lack of coronavirus testing and protective equipment for health care and other essential workers means that the county must keep the restrictions in place.
Until now, Bay Area leaders have presented a united front when it comes to imposing rules to contain the threat of the coronavirus – a joint effort that began when they first issued orders Locked out of the country against coronaviruses in mid-March and continued with a second cycle of revised on-site shelter orders issued last month. Even though much of the country, and most of California, began to reopen, these orders were to remain in effect until the end of May.
But pressure has been mounting for weeks on end of troubled businesses, residents and politicians eager to resume their lives before the pandemic.
According to data compiled by this news agency, California public health officials registered 2,060 new cases of coronavirus and 93 deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total to 72,971 confirmed cases and 2,967 deaths.
Even Bay Area health officials who will allow business to resume next week acknowledge that the virus remains a threat to their communities and that its spread could be exacerbated by relaxing restrictions.
“I want to remind everyone that these changes are not being made because it is safe to get around,” said Dr. Scott Morrow, health official for San Mateo County, on Wednesday in a statement announcing the revision of the decree. “The virus continues to circulate in our community, and this increase in interactions between people is likely to spread the virus at a higher rate. “
Moving to a more uneven regional reopening could be a problem as more and more people return to work in the Bay Area, where workers and students who travel regularly cross the county boundaries before the lockout.
While not directly addressing new plans in the Bay Area, Newsom Governor said in his daily press conference on Wednesday that “common sense dictates” that the state should take a more regional approach to loosen restrictions regarding shelters on site.
“Getting in and out of the counties would run counter to having county variations,” said Newsom. “This is the big challenge – you open a dense urban environment right next to a community that is not open, people start to rush into this dense urban environment and return to their community.”
The revised San Mateo County by-law, which will take effect on Monday, follows Newsom’s guidelines which authorize the opening of strip and outlet malls for curbside pickup. Car wash, pet grooming, and landscaping businesses are also open for free, as are outside museums and non-essential offices for businesses whose employees cannot telecommute.
Authorities in Alameda County have reached an agreement with Tesla to allow the company to legally reopen after the automaker began recalling workers from its Fremont factory in disregard of local health standards. The deal could pave the way for a full reopening of Tesla next week, and county officials have hinted that they could also ease restrictions on other businesses.
“As long as the data shows progress with our COVID-19 indicators during this two-week period, we would allow additional approved activities for local businesses, including Tesla, as planned,” said county officials. Alameda. in a statement Tuesday evening.
Contra Costa county officials have started issuing new guidelines for certain types of socially distant drive-in events such as degrees. But before the county eases the restrictions more broadly, it needs to dramatically increase its daily coronavirus tests, to 2,200 tests per day, up from 552 only on Monday, said Department of Health Services director Anna Roth.
Roth also said the county is still stepping up its efforts to find contacts, with the aim of reaching at least 90% of cases and identifying 90% of their contacts – and then ensuring that 90% of these cases and contacts isolate safely.
“We are not there yet, but we plan to develop to that end,” she said.
Cody was widely lauded for spearheading the closure of schools and businesses in the Bay Area two months ago, a decision some researchers have credited with saving thousands of lives in the area. This week, she argued that these restrictions must remain in place as the region faces “the same conditions” it experienced in March, without a coronavirus vaccine or generalized immunity against the deadly disease.
County supervisors have warned that frustration and impatience with home support orders is increasing with each passing day – particularly when surrounding areas relax restrictions.
“Declining support” for the directive could quickly erode its effectiveness, supervisor Joe Simitian said on Tuesday.
“If we have 10, 20, 30% of people who are not in compliance because of their loss of confidence in the guidelines, we will have a problem in our hands,” he said.