Pamela Cruz. Peninsula 360 Press [P360P].
Beginning tomorrow, Thursday, at 11:59 p.m., San Mateo and 10 other counties will be subject to a mandatory regional "stay-at-home" order due to a significant increase in COVID-19 positive cases that have caused Intensive Care Units to become overcrowded.
Through a statement, the county's Emergency Operations Center, recalled that the order, which will be in effect for at least three weeks, prohibits private gatherings of any size, except for open-air religious services and political demonstrations.
Likewise, restaurants must stop offering food to be consumed on site, and may only offer take-out and home delivery.
Under the new order, many businesses and activities will have to close, including salons and barber shops, while retail trade will be allowed to remain open at 20% of capacity.
It should be noted that in this new paradigm, non-essential travel and the use of hotels or short-term rentals for leisure are prohibited.
The request by the State of California was due to the fact that ICU bed capacity in the region has fallen below 15%, a situation that triggers the protocol.
Thus, the order is intended to avoid overcrowding and mixing among non-household members and not overwhelm the health care system.
Although the order may be strong, it is less radical than the closures ordered in the spring, as people can continue with essential activities such as going to the doctor, shopping for groceries and picking up take-out food.
This new closure does not restrict outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and outdoor religious ceremonies, however, schools that have already reopened for in-person classes under a plan reviewed by the San Mateo Health Department and the San Mateo County Office of Education may remain open.
The document issued this afternoon, details that all retail operations and shopping centers are limited to 20% of their capacity, and 35% in the case of independent grocery stores with entrance meters, in addition to not allowing eating or drinking in the stores.
Cases grow in San Mateo
As of Tuesday, December 15, the county reported an accumulation of 18,907 positive COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, while deaths due to this virus now total 183.
This month, the county recorded new highs of positive cases in a single day, as during the period December 9-15, the county recorded 2,602 new laboratory-confirmed cases, a daily average of 372 cases.
The county's 14-day average of positive tests has increased to 8.0% from 2.1% in early November.
However, across the Bay Area region, ICU capacity was down today to 12.9%, according to the state's COVID-19 data panel.
With Bay Area ICU capacity below the 15 percent activation threshold, now 39.4 million Californians, approximately 98 percent of the population, are subject to the Regional Stay-at-Home Order.
The order, where approximately 98 percent of the Bay Area population will be subject to the rule, will be in effect in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties.
After the three weeks, the order may be lifted if the region's projected ICU capacity reaches or exceeds 15%.