As Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that the state is exploring more aggressive enforcement of its COVID-19 shelter-in-place policy after residents in coastal areas flouted the order by going to the beach over the weekend, public health officials in several Bay Area communities appeared ready to extend by a month local shelter orders that had been set to expire this Sunday.
A joint statement sent Monday by the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara along with the city of Berkeley said the shelter order initially issued last month has helped in slowing the spread of the virus and preventing local hospitals from being overwhelmed.
“Hospitalizations have leveled, but more work is needed to safely reopen our communities,” the statement said. “Prematurely lifting restrictions could easily lead to a large surge in cases.”
The health officers from the several Bay Area jurisdictions this week will also release a set of indicators that will be used to track progress in COVID-19 preparedness and response.
More information about the shelter order extension, and what restrictions may be eased, will be shared later in the week, the joint statement said.
Meanwhile, Newsom chastised residents in places like Orange and Ventura counties who flocked to local beaches, particularly on Saturday, during a wave of warm weather across the state.
Newsom argued that the state is weeks, rather than months, away from beginning to loosen shelter-in-place orders as long as people abide by physical distancing and other public health practices to avoid spreading the virus. That won’t be the case if people continue leaving their homes just because the weather is nice.
“As we change our behavior, we can impact the science, the health and the data,” Newsom said. “This virus doesn’t take the weekends off, this virus doesn’t go home because it’s a beautiful, sunny day around our coasts.”
Newsom said similar images of crowded beaches weren’t as abundant from other areas like Los Angeles, San Diego and San Mateo counties because local governments followed state directives for enforcing stay-at-home orders.
San Mateo County had previously issued an order allowing people to only do recreation activities within 5 miles of their homes. On Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica, that city’s police officers contacted 853 beachgoers and ordered 535 off the beach after learning they lived more than 5 miles away, police said.
State officials are collaborating with the California Highway Patrol, state park patrols and other agencies to enhance enforcement provisions against people who leave their homes for non-essential reasons.
“We will avail ourselves to more aggressive enforcement of the stay-at-home order, of the social distancing, of the guidelines and procedures that we expect to be followed all across the state of California,” Newsom said.
Newsom also announced that Nevada and Colorado joined California, Oregon and Washington in the Western States Pact, allowing all five states to collaborate on a strategy to combat the coronavirus and, eventually, begin re-opening their economies and societies.
Health officials around the state had confirmed as of Monday a total of 43,464 coronavirus cases, including 1,755 deaths, according to Newsom. In addition, 1,185 people are in intensive care due to the virus and 3,372 are currently hospitalized across the state.