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Bay Area Covid-19 update: One year after shelter-at-home orders

Exactly one year ago, six Bay Area counties joined forces in a shelter-at-home order in an effort to curb the growing number of Covid-19 cases. On this day in 2020, the Bay Area was reporting just shy of 1,000 confirmed cases across the nine-county region.

Jesse Garnier/SFBay On March 17, 2020, which marked the first day of a six-county shelter-at-home order, the Bay Area had recorded 981 confirmed cases.

As of Wednesday, a total of 413,517 cases had caused 5,200 deaths across that same region.

Let’s take a look at current Covid-19 news and data from around the Bay Area one year later.

Alameda County

  • Confirmed Cases: 82,168
  • Deaths: 1,330
  • Vaccinations: 615,671

Source: Alameda County Public Health Department with data totals including Berkeley.

The first case of Covid-19 was identified in Alameda County on Feb. 28, 2020. The case rate swelled in mid-April and by the end of May, the county led the region in cumulative cases, a position it held until well into July. County supervisors Tuesday reflected on how the pandemic impacted the area in the year since the March 17 public health emergency was declared.

While there is no making light of the 1,330 deaths caused by the virus countywide, supervisors did find room for cautious optimism about where things are headed.     

As of Wednesday, about 15 percent of the area’s residents have been fully vaccinated and more than 600,000 total vaccine doses have been administered. In Berkeley, which operates separately from the rest of Alameda County, eligibility was extended Monday to people between 16 and 64 years old with specific underlying health conditions. Other vulnerable populations, including people in high-risk congregate settings, will now also have the option to schedule an appointment. Alameda County has yet to follow suit.

Adding to the long list of Covid-19 casualties, Mills College announced Wednesday that it will no longer admit new first-year undergraduate students after fall 2021. Mills has been a liberal arts beacon in Oakland since 1852, serving female and gender non binary students and earning national respect for its impressive music department and progressive curriculum. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit as the college was already struggling with declining enrollment and a budget deficit, forcing the school to move away from its role as a degree-granting institution. 

Contra Costa County

  • Confirmed Cases: 64,280
  • Deaths: 725
  • Vaccinations: 470,233

Source: Contra Costa Health Services.

Health officials said Tuesday that the county’s first case of the variant that originated in the United Kingdom has been identified in Contra Costa County. 

County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said in a statement:

“This is a reminder that even though COVID numbers are falling, we need to continue using all our tools to prevent another surge…”

The county health department is holding a “Hope and Healing” event Monday night, which marks one year since the first Contra Costa resident died as a result of the virus. The half-hour virtual memorial will be shared live on YouTube at 8 p.m. and will offer the community a moment to pause and remember those lost with testimonials and musical tributes. 

As of Sunday, Contra Costa and Sonoma counties were the last in the Bay Area to be moved into the red tier in the state’s reopening blueprint, which in addition to other eased restrictions allowed indoor dining, movie theaters and other select indoor operations to reopen at 25 percent capacity. 

This week also saw movement on the school reopening front within the Mount Diablo Unified School District, which serves Clayton, Concord, Pleasant Hill and portions of Pittsburg, Bay Point, Martinez, Walnut Creek, Lafayette and Pacheco. After tense negotiations that went on for 19 straight hours, MDUSD and the Mt. Diablo Education Association reached a tentative agreement early Tuesday morning. While full ratification of the agreement is still pending, the target is to reopen all schools on March 29. The agreement calls for a hybrid model that would utilize distance learning in mornings and afternoon in-person classes a couple of days per week. 

Pre-kindergarten through second grade classes would reopen earlier on March 25.

Marin County

  • Confirmed Cases: 11,236
  • Deaths: 171
  • Vaccinations: 89,491

Source: Marin Health and Human Services.

Cases reported in Marin County do not include those from San Quentin Prison, the site of one of California’s worst prison outbreaks where more than 2,200 inmates were infected and 28 died as a result over the summer of 2020. The Covid-19 inmate death toll at San Quentin remains the highest within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation system.

Wallpaper Flare Twenty-eight San Quentin inmates died as a result of a Covid-19 outbreak over the summer of 2020.

About one-fifth of the county’s population over the age of 16 has received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine — more than 42 percent have received at least one dose. According to public health data as of Wednesday, about 86 percent of doses received have been administered by either public or private partner means.

The Marin County Small Business Fund is offering zero interest loans to cover certain expenses. The program, made possible by federal aid, can provide up to $50,000 for eligible businesses with 50 or less employees. Repayments will be deferred until October. The application deadline was extended through Monday. Further details and eligibility requirements can be found on the Mission Economic Development Agency website.

Napa County

  • Confirmed Cases: 9,208
  • Deaths: 77
  • Vaccinations: 68,422

Source: Department of Health and Human Services as of Wednesday.

The Napa Valley was just granted some welcome reprieve with a statewide health guideline change implemented Saturday that allows wineries, distilleries and breweries that don’t serve food to reopen under varying conditions and capacities. In Napa County, which has been in the red tier since March 3, that means winery customers can be served outdoors for up to 90 minutes with a reservation. 

A move to the orange tier, which officials anticipate could happen before the end of the month, would allow wineries to open for indoor tastings, among other things. The county had already reached the orange tier last fall but was bumped all the way down to purple with the winter case surge. 

San Francisco

  • Confirmed Cases: 34,589
  • Deaths: 448
  • Vaccinations: 260,430

Source: San Francisco Department of Public Health.

Mayor London Breed and public health officials Wednesday held a press conference at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital to commemorate the one-year anniversary since she directed residents to shelter in place.

The City confirmed its two cases of Covid-19 in early March of last year and has maintained one of the lowest infection and death rates among major cities, not just in the Bay Area, but throughout the nation. The Department of Public Health reports that The City’s seven-day rolling average of new cases per day is 33.

Breed said at the press conference that San Francisco has been resilient through a number of catastrophic events, including the Spanish flu and both the 1908 and 1989 earthquakes.

Breed said:

“We took the tragedy, we took those experiences, and we use those experiences, that tragedy, to make San Francisco a better city.”

Despite much of The City shutting down, many still had to work. In appreciation for those frontline health care workers, grocery store employees and bus operators, Breed said:

“Today as we think about that year, and all the work that we’ve had to put in, in order to get to this place where we are today, I’m grateful. I’m grateful to the workforce here in San Francisco.”

Jesse Garnier/SFBay Recipients of Covid-19 vaccines wait in a gymnasium after being inoculated at the Mashouf Center at San Francisco State University on Wednesday, March 17, 2021.

Director of DPH Dr. Grant Colfax, who has faced the public to deliver both good and bad news, said that while the year has been challenging, there were moments of hope that will stick with him over time.

One such moment was on Dec. 16 when the first vaccine doses were administered to health care workers.

He said:

“So much of our progress is owed to the incredible people of this magnificent city.”

As of Tuesday, DPH reported that 34 percent of residents over the age of 16 have received at least one vaccine dose and 16 percent have been fully vaccinated. 

Dosage supply has been a lingering issue, though supply has been slowly increasing since emergency use approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Breed said on Twitter that The City’s daily vaccination goal will be increased from 10,000 to 20,000 per day.

Those eligible to receive a vaccine include healthcare workers, people over the age of 65 and people between the ages of 16 and 64 with eligible underlying health issues and disabilities, as well as people in high-risk congregate settings. People can visit for more information on vaccine sites and eligibility.

San Mateo County

  • Confirmed Cases: 39,502
  • Deaths: 536
  • Vaccinations: 214,839

Source: San Mateo County Health Department.

San Mateo County reported its first 10 cases on Feb. 20 and, as of Tuesday, is the first Bay Area county to reach the orange tier in the state’s latest blueprint iteration.

County Board of Supervisors President David Canepa said in a statement Tuesday:

“This is an important milestone for San Mateo County and every resident should be proud of the role they played in bringing us here by continuing to wear a mask, social distance, test and receiving the vaccine when they are eligible.”

However, he added that now is not the time for residents to become complacent, as the Covid-19 virus is still here and variants are spreading.

Under the orange tier, the county is permitted to reopen malls with safety modifications, and places of worship can allow 50 percent capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer. Gyms and fitness centers can reopen at 25 percent capacity, and museums, zoos and aquariums can operate at 50 percent capacity.

As of Tuesday, the county has vaccinated 214,838 county residents, according to San Mateo County Health data. Visit the county’s website to find vaccination site locations and eligibility requirements.

Santa Clara County

  • Confirmed Cases: 113,044
  • Deaths: 1,875
  • Vaccinations: 419,803

Source: Santa Clara County Public Health.

Santa Clara County was one of the first and hardest-hit counties in the Bay Area. The first documented case was recorded on Feb. 26, with the case rate ballooning over the following six months.

Again, Santa Clara County suffered hard times with the winter case surge pushing intensive care units to full capacity at some hospitals. On Jan. 5, the county reported 2,254 new cases in a single day. The county is now seeing a downward trend in new cases, with just 75 per day, a steep decline from what the area experienced just two months prior.

Both testing and vaccination efforts have paid off — the county announced Monday that it had passed the milestone of three million Covid-19 tests since the pandemic began and public health data shows the county making steady progress in vaccinating residents.

As of Wednesday, 419,803 residents over the age of 16 had received at least one dose of the vaccine. The county is administering an average of over 10,000 doses a day. 

More information on eligibility and locations of vaccination sites can be found on the county’s website

Solano County

  • Confirmed Cases: 30,670
  • Deaths: 178
  • Vaccinations: 91,300

Source: Solano Public Health.

Solano County this week dropped down the vaccine eligibility age to 50. 

County officials said they lowered the age eligibility due to unfilled appointment slots, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The county is believed to be one of the first in the Bay Area to start vaccinating people under the age of 65.

Other counties, though, have begun vaccinating people between the age of 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions or disabilities as allowed by the state Monday. 

The mass vaccination site at the Solano County Fairgrounds in Vallejo, a Kaiser Permanente effort, is prepared to vaccinate up to 4,000 people per day when dose supply increases. The site will administer the vaccine to all county residents, though a temporary Kaiser membership number is required for people not covered under a Kaiser health plan.  

Hammond Entertainment Solano County Fairgrounds mass Covid-19 vaccination site under Kaiser Permanente and operated logistically by Hammond Entertainment administered 40,000 doses in 15 days.

The fairgrounds site was planned and is logistically operated by Bill Hammond, of Hammond Entertainment, and a crew of entertainment industry professionals. The team, aided by locally-hired assistance, leaned on their experience setting up concerts, tours and charity events to establish an efficient site that managed to administer 40,000 shots in 15 days of operation.

Hammond said:

“From the time you get out of your car in the parking lot to the time you exit is about 34 minutes.”    

A total of 91,300 people in the county have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

Sonoma County

  • Confirmed Cases: 28,820
  • Deaths: 308
  • Vaccinations: 212,942

Source: County of Sonoma.

The county health department reports Wednesday that 17 percent of the population over 16 years old has been fully vaccinated and another 18 percent have received one of two doses. 

The county held a Facebook Live community briefing to discuss the vaccination effort Monday evening. Public comments posted during the briefing skirted over the issue of vaccinations and heavily leaned toward the topic of schools reopening at full capacity. 

CORRECTION: This story was updated to reflect that San Francisco had extended vaccine eligibility to people between the ages of 16 and 64, not 24, with certain underlying health conditions.
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