There is nothing normal about this St. Patrick’s Day, with lights out in bars that would typically be stuffed with patrons and restaurants only serving to-go food out the door. The Bay Area faced its first day under a multiple-county shelter-in-place order Tuesday as the region struggles to contain the spread of 2019 novel coronavirus, otherwise known at COVID-19
Reactions to the legal orders have so far been mixed. Some shopping plazas in Concord were entirely shut down — notices taped to dark front windows — but cellular, auto supply and clothing stores flashed defiant “Open” signs within a block’s radius. What constitutes an “essential service” in some cases is either being misunderstood or plainly ignored by some businesses.
Still, many local residents are adhering to the order by staying home to wait out the concern. Areas known for tourism are eerily empty and traffic in a region notoriously known for congestion is nearly nonexistent.
According to the John Hopkins University COVID-19 tracking tool, California Tuesday had confirmed 700 cases and 12 related deaths as of 7:40 p.m. Of those who have died, five of them are from Santa Clara County. The U.S. as a whole is frantically trying to navigate the health and fiscal impact of 6,420 confirmed cases while officials acknowledge that the total is far from a snapshot of reality with limited testing capabilities.
The Bay Area shelter-in-place order was by far the most aggressive action taken across the nation, but New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said Tuesday he may have to consider implementing the same or similar measures in the coming 48 hours. The city has recorded seven related deaths to date.
We’ve put together below some of the most current updates from the region and throughout Bay Area.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday he thinks most California schools will likely stay closed through the remainder of the school year. Newsom stressed parents of the more than six million statewide students need to plan for the challenge of keeping kids at home.
Schools across the state are finding ways to supply students with to-go meals during campus closures.
Census workers are struggling to meet outreach efforts under the new shelter order restrictions. Funds secured for door-to-door efforts may be routed to alternative methods that encourage people to complete the forms online and by mail.
BART’s ridership numbers fell by 70 percent Monday as compared to an average February Monday. The extreme drop in passengers is being felt across all transit agencies, especially since the shelter-in-place order was announced.
The Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 Tuesday to direct staff to draft an ordinance that would give residents a 30-day moratorium on evictions.
Several groups called on county officials to pass an ordinance that paid sick leave ordinance that would allow workers to access 14 days of paid leave, with or without accrual, during public emergencies like what is currently being experienced.
Contra Costa County
Vic’s in Martinez is offering grilled cheese and fries to residents between 10 and 11 a.m., and Slice of Italeigh will be giving away free cheese slices to school-age students in Martinez Thursday and Friday from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. The restaurants are supplementing efforts by the Martinez School District to provide drive-up distribution brown-bag lunches at Martinez Junior High School.
Marin County reports of 11 cases of coronavirus as of Monday evening. The county was one of six Bay Area counties ordered to shelter in place. Police in San Rafael are asking residents to contact the department by phone in lieu of making reports in person.
Although Napa County remains the only Bay Area county not reporting any confirmed coronavirus cases, officials announced Tuesday a prohibition on public or private gatherings of 50 more people. The county has not yet adopted the same shelter orders seen in other areas of the region.
San Francisco County
The City reports of 43 coronavirus cases as of Tuesday 10 a.m. Following the actions taken by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday, Mayor London Breed issued a moratorium on evictions for small- to medium-sized commercial businesses. The moratorium only applies to commercial businesses with a license to operate in San Francisco and those with less than $25 million in annual gross receipts tax. The moratorium will last for 30 days and will be extended by Breed if necessary.
Additionally, the mayor announced a declaration to expedite the process of hiring essential health care workers, such as nurses. The Department of Public Health will be able to hire qualified nurses “on the spot” instead of going through what could be a six-month or longer hiring process.
San Mateo County
San Mateo County health officials reported 64 coronavirus cases and one death as of Tuesday 8:25 a.m. The county was one of six Bay Area counties ordered to shelter in place.
The county’s sheriff’s department is warning residents of phone, email and website scams involving the virus where the suspects offer information about the virus in an attempt to steal personal information. Officials say to be aware of these scams and thoroughly check sources of information.
Santa Clara County
The county hit hardest in the Bay Area is now reporting a total of 155 coronavirus cases as of Tuesday 5 p.m. An additional 17 cases were added to the total Tuesday. Santa Clara County was one of six Bay Area counties ordered to shelter in place in Monday’s sweeping announcement.
Health officials also announced the county’s coronavirus-related fifth death Tuesday. The patient who died was a man in his 50s and has been hospitalized since March 9.
Sheriff’s officials announced the suspension of inmate visitations at two county jails: one in Milpitas and one in San Jose. The suspension is expected to last as long as the county is under a shelter order.
Santa Clara County Superior Court has suspended all non-essential court functions for three weeks in response to the county’s order. Residents called for jury duty for the week of March 23 and March 30 have been excused.
San Jose cannabis dispensaries are permitted to stay open as an “essential service.” Rosario Neaves, the city’s emergency public information officer, said:
“The City interpret ‘Healthcare Operations’ as including medical cannabis.”
Solano County health officials Tuesday emphasized the need to follow Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recommendations on social distancing. While the county has yet to issue a shelter-in-place order, officials recommend that bars, gyms, movie theaters, nightclubs and wineries be closed. It has been also been recommended that large gatherings be canceled, restaurants stay open only for takeout service and that people maintain a 6-foot distance between each other.
The county is reporting eight confirmed coronavirus cases.
Sonoma County health officials issued a shelter-in-place order that will takes Wednesday after midnight and is expected to last three weeks.
Superior Court locations throughout the county are closing to all but critical calendar items and high priority functions until April 3. Jury service has been deferred for people summoned March 16.
The county is reporting six coronavirus cases as of Monday 6 p.m.