By Audrey Conklin
San Mateo County will not immediately implement Gov. Gavin Newsom’s regional new stay-at-home order as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations spike in the state.
Newsom announced new orders Thursday asking Californians in areas where hospital ICU capacity has reached 15% to stay home and close business operations for at least three weeks starting Saturday.
But San Mateo County said on Thursday that instead it will work with the community and businesses to enforce the state’s strictest existing restrictions under its “purple tier” category, diverging from other Bay Area counties.
“We know our residents have sacrificed and patience is growing thin, but we need you to know that you have the power to curb the spread and preserve hospital capacity for those who will need care in the coming weeks. We can get through this together if each of us takes action now to social distance, wear face coverings and avoid gatherings,” said County Manager Michael Callagy.
San Mateo noted in a Wednesday blog post that California expects the Bay Area region to fall bellow the 15% ICU threshold by mid-December while other counties could reach that threshold “within days.”
San Mateo County Chief of Health Louise Rogers said in a statement that the county acknowledges “the reality of the pandemic fatigue that residents are experiencing and the need to find sources of support through this challenging period.”
“Our collective focus must be on finding ways to support each other through this crisis safely while limiting gathering and adhering to face covering,” Rogers said.
The state of about 40 million people recorded a new high of more than 25,000 positive COVID-19 tests and more than 200 deaths on Saturday. San Mateo, which has a population of about 770,000 people, recorded 177 new cases and six deaths Friday, but the county’s website states that data are incomplete.
Bay Area counties neighboring San Mateo have agreed to follow Newsom’s stay-at-home order.
“We are at a tipping point in our fight against the virus and we need to take decisive action now to prevent California’s hospital system from being overwhelmed in the coming weeks,” Newsom said in a Thursday statement. “By invoking a Stay at Home Order for regions where ICU capacity falls below 15[%], we can flatten the curve as we’ve done before and reduce stress on our health care system.”
Newsom added that California “leaned in” to help its small business owners “with new grants and tax relief” to help them get through the month of December.
“If we stay home as much as possible, and wear masks when we have to go to the doctor, shop for groceries or go for a hike, California can come out of this in a way that saves lives and puts us on a path toward economic recovery,” he said.