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Bay Area extends coronavirus order; funerals limited and construction projects halted

Health officers in six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area extended a stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus through May 3 and put new restrictions on such things as residential construction projects and the number of people who can attend funerals.

Dr. Sara Cody, the Santa Clara County public health officer, said the Bay Area’s strict stay-at-home order was working, but it needs more time.

“I want to say that: The incredible sacrifice that everyone has made, I believe it is starting to bend the curve. But it’s not enough and it hasn’t been in place long enough, so we need to keep at it, we just need to keep at it,” Cody said at a news conference. “I believe it’s beginning to make a difference, and it’s giving our hospitals more time.

The counties extending the order are San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin.

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“While the prior order has been effective in reducing the rate of transmission of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), it is not enough,” the health officers said in a statement. “There has been a significant increase in the number of positive cases, hospitalization and deaths from COVID-19, which is beginning to strain healthcare resources. The health officers have determined that more and stricter social distancing is needed to slow the rate of spread, prevent deaths, and stop the health care system from becoming overwhelmed.”

“Extending the stay-at-home order should reduce the number of sick patients seeking care at one time, giving us time to acquire more medical supplies for providers who will be providing care to people sick with COVID-19. The extension will allow doctors and nurses to better treat those who do get sick, and save countless lives,” Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa County, said in a statement.

The first order mandating residents shelter in place as much as possible was issued on March 16 and was set to expire on April 7. It’s meant to complement the statewide stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 19.

“I want to be very clear about the overall goal we are trying to achieve,” said Santa Clara County public health officer, Dr. Sara Cody. “The goal is to decrease, to the greatest extent possible, the average number of contacts that each of us has with each other every day.”

The officials clarified language on essential business activities:

  • Use of playgrounds, dog parks, public picnic areas and similar recreational areas is prohibited. These areas must be closed to public use.
  • Use of shared public recreational facilities such as golf courses, tennis and basketball courts, pools and rock walls is prohibited. These facilities must be closed for recreational use.
  • Sports requiring people to share a ball or other equipment must be limited to people in the same household.
  • Essential businesses must develop a social distancing protocol before April 3.
  • Most construction — residential and commercial — is prohibited.
  • Funerals are limited to no more than 10 people attending
  • The definition of “essential businesses” is expanded to include service providers that enable residential transactions (notaries, title companies, Realtors, etc.); funeral homes and cemeteries; moving companies, rental car companies and ride-hailing services that specifically enable essential activities.
  • Essential businesses that continue to operate must scale down operations to their essential components only.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said Los Angeles may extend its own rules into May.

In L.A. County, officials reported seven more deaths Monday, bringing the total to 44 — the highest concentration in the state.

The order by the Bay Area counties comes as coronavirus cases in Northern California keep increasing.

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Alameda County reported 283 confirmed COVID-19 cases and seven deaths linked to the virus as of Monday. The city of Berkeley, which has its own public health division, recorded 19 infected people.

In Marin County, the death toll jumped to four after three additional victims were reported this week. Two men in their 60s and a woman in her 90s died, county spokeswoman Laine Hendricks said.

As of Monday, the county had reported at least 99 cases, the bulk of whom are ages 50-64.

In Los Angeles County, officials reported seven more deaths Monday, bringing the total to 44 — the highest concentration in the state.

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L.A. Police Chief Michel Moore said the city may extend its own stay-at-home rules into May.


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