Several Bay Area counties to extend shelter in place orders

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Flatten the curve / Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA

Sheltering in place is one of several effective strategies that help reduce the load on medical facilities.

In a joint letter addressed to the public, the health officers of six Bay Area counties describe a mutual agreement to prolong the shelter in place order through May.

The health officers of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara have reportedly reached a consensus to extend shelter in place orders while lightening certain restrictions on “low-risk activities.” While the specifics of the order are currently unknown, they will be made available later this week.

“At this stage of the pandemic, however, it is critical that our collective efforts continue so that we do not lose the progress we have achieved together. Hospitalizations have leveled, but more work is needed to safely re-open our communities. Prematurely lifting restrictions could easily lead to a large surge in cases,” reads the letter.

More than a month has passed since the initial San Mateo County shelter in place order was implemented on March 13, 2020. While data suggests the measures are functioning as intended, officials say that the steps are dynamic and will directly reflect the current regional situation. Governor Gavin Newsom further clarified the process during a press conference.

“There’s no light switch here. It’s more like a dimmer. That dimmer is this toggling back and forth between more restrictive and less restrictive measures,” Newsom said.

Meanwhile, many feel the burden of the restrictions imposed by state and local governments. As a result, numerous protests have occurred around the state. Twitter user Stephen Carr (@Carrphotos) captured a protest in Huntington, California, where numerous attendees are seen holding signs which read “Every worker is essential” and “Open California now.”

While the extension places the end of the orders further away, officials recognize the demand for a tangible goal. In a press conference, Newsom outlined a four-step plan which will be used to formally ensure that all prerequisites are met before the shelter in place order is lifted. Newsom also informed reporters with a specific strategy that will be used to implement each of the plan’s steps.

“You may be having dinner with a waiter wearing gloves, maybe a face mask, dinner where the menu is disposable,” Newsom said. “These are likely scenarios.”