Public Domain/Andrea Hanks
6.7 million people have been ordered to “shelter in place” within six Bay Area counties; San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, and Alameda. Each order begins at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and will last through April 7.
The “shelter in place” directive came from a discussion among Bay Area health officers around the dramatic increase of 24 new cases overnight, a total of now 138 cases in Santa Clara County, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“This is coming from our county health experts, and is not just happening in San Francisco. The Bay Area is coming together, understanding the significance of the impacts of COVID-19, to make sure we are keeping people safe,” said London Breed, the mayor of San Francisco.
Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, laundromats, gas stations, government buildings, and restaurants only for takeout will remain open.
People can leave their homes for “essential activities” such as taking care of a family member or pet in another household, visiting a healthcare professional, or getting food and necessary supplies. They can also go to their essential job or do an outdoor activity such as: running, hiking, or walking as long as they follow the social distancing guidelines.
After the announcement of this order, rumors of a possible national curfew began to spread, but President Donald Trump denied the possibility at a press conference.
“We haven’t determined to enact a national curfew, and hopefully we won’t have to. It’s a big step that we can take, but we haven’t decided to take that step yet,” Trump said.
During the press conference, Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, spoke on the importance of social distancing.
“Millenials are the core group that will stop this virus; they intuitively know how to contact each other without going to social gatherings, and they speak to each other about how important it is in this moment to protect those at substantial risk of the virus,” Birx said.
Many public health officials agree with Birx and cannot stress the importance of social distancing enough.
“When one member of a household is sick, the whole household needs to quarantine in the house to prevent the spreading of the virus. The virus can be spread before symptoms are shown, and some won’t even show any symptoms of the virus but still be contagious,” Birx said.
The Bay Area health officials hope to see a decrease in the number of new cases after the order is in effect. Sheriffs and police officers will help to ensure compliance with the order because the violation causes a threat to the public health of San Mateo County.
“We’re trying to ‘flatten the curve’ of the virus, and staying home is the best thing you can do right now,” said Joe Goethals, the mayor of San Mateo.