The public health officers of six Bay Area counties, including Contra Costa and Alameda, announced on Monday that they will be extending their shelter-in-place order through at least the end of May amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
More specifics are due to be released later in the week, when the revised shelter order is issued. However, officials said Monday that the new order "will largely keep the current restrictions in place" but "will include limited easing of specific restrictions for a small number of lower-risk activities."
The existing COVID-19 shelter order had been set to expire this coming Sunday (May 3) in the six counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara), as well as the city of Berkeley, which has its own health division.
"Thanks to the collective effort and sacrifice of the 7 million residents across our jurisdictions, we have made substantial progress in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, ensuring our local hospitals are not overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, and saving lives," the seven health officers said on Monday.
"At this stage of the pandemic, however, it is critical that our collective efforts continue so that we do not lose the progress we have achieved together," they added. "Hospitalizations have leveled, but more work is needed to safely re-open our communities. Prematurely lifting restrictions could easily lead to a large surge in cases."
The formal order extending the shelter-in-place is set to be adopted later in the week, although a specific day was not specified.
"The City of Dublin looks forward to hearing more about which restrictions might be eased within our community. We remain well prepared and will comply with all State and County Executive Orders," Dublin Mayor David Haubert told DanvilleSanRamon.com.
"San Ramon will continue to provide as many services as we can to residents through the extended order. Over the past month, we have been able to enhance programs for our seniors and at-risk residents to help them through this pandemic," San Ramon City Manager Joe Gorton said.
"Soon, we will be launching a new program to help San Ramon businesses navigate various State and Federal assistance programs," Gorton added. "The residents of San Ramon have been strong throughout the pandemic, helping each other and offering assistance in many creative ways. Working together keeps our community strong."
In terms of confirmed cases, the COVID-19 impact in the Tri-Valley has been felt most among Pleasanton residents with 52 positive tests recorded by the Alameda County Public Health Department as of Monday evening.
Other confirmed results include 35 cases in Livermore, 35 cases for Santa Rita Jail, 34 cases in San Ramon, 24 cases in Dublin, 20 cases in Danville, 17 cases in Alamo and fewer than 10 cases in Sunol, according to officials in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
Countywide, there were 1,498 confirmed cases and 52 deaths from COVID-19 in Alameda County and 820 confirmed cases and 25 deaths in Contra Costa County.
In explaining their decision to extend the shelter order by nearly one month, officials said the coronavirus pandemic "is still in its early stages," and smart, strategic planning is necessary in their eyes to ensure public safety when lifting restrictions.
"The virus spreads easily, testing capacity is limited and expanding slowly, and vaccine development is just beginning. We expect to be responding to COVID-19 in our communities for a long time," they said.
"As effective as our efforts have been, if we move too fast to ease restrictions, the potential of exponential spread could have grave impacts to health and wellness of our residents as well as the economy," they continued, adding:
"The Health Officers of these seven jurisdictions have been working closely together in leading a unified, regional approach, to protect the health and safety of our residents."
The Bay Area public health officials also said they plan to release "a set of broad indicators that will be used to track progress in preparedness and response to COVID-19, in alignment with the framework being used by the State of California."
"Future easing of restrictions requires that each jurisdiction and various sectors continue to rapidly build critical infrastructure and systems to respond to and control the spread of coronavirus infections and to ensure the health care system’s ability to meet demand," they said.