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Coronavirus: Bay Area Counties Are Opening Up More. Here’s Where Your County Stands.
San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties plan to loosen their restrictions starting Monday, May 18.
The new rules will allow some retail stores to reopen with curbside pickup and delivery options only, and manufacturing, logistics and warehouse operations to resume. Alameda and Contra Costa counties say they are considering taking the same step as early as next week. The remaining county in the group, Santa Clara, says it’s not yet ready to amend its order.
Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties opted out of the regional public health plan and are following the state road map to reopening instead. But Sonoma has now announced a further expansion of businesses that can open, provided they meet certain guidelines, as of Friday, May 15.
See each of the counties’ current stage of reopening and their progress in meeting the individual indicators by clicking on the links below.
Stage of reopening: The county says it anticipates allowing for curbside pickup at stores and the resumption of manufacturing “next week,” barring a big spike in cases before then. A spokesperson said the county plans to make a formal announcement soon.
Progress: Officials say the county is rapidly increasing testing capacity each week, with swabs and other supplies more readily available than at the beginning of the pandemic. Alameda has been able to expand the number of people who qualify to receive tests to include those with COVID-19 symptoms. It recently announced four new test sites with the goal of reaching underserved populations.
Maintaining a 30-day supply of protective equipment remains a challenge, with the county’s health department still receiving requests from some health care facilities that can’t obtain enough PPE from their usual suppliers.
Various shortages have arisen at different times, said Dr. Erica Pan, Alameda County’s interim health officer. “Most recently, there’s been a gown shortage,” she said. “There’s definitely more demand than supply right now. In more focused outbreaks, you can request supply from another uninfected region. But because we’re in a global pandemic, there’s a high demand across the world.”
As for contact tracing, Neetu Balram, spokesperson for the county’s health department, said in an email: “At this time we estimate we are meeting our goals of reaching approximately 90% of cases and contacts and ensuring that approximately 90% of those we reach can isolate or quarantine safely. We need to continue to scale our teams up to prepare for increased cases and outbreaks as we loosen restrictions and allow more physical contact, but currently we’re moving in the right direction.”
- Hospitalizations and new cases: Both have been flat.
- Hospital capacity: The county says it is currently meeting the goal.
- Testing: The county said this week that it’s roughly one-third of the way to the target of 3,100 tests per day.
Stage of reopening: County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano told the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors on Thursday that the county is not yet ready to relax its stay-at-home order, according to the Los Angeles Times. However, a county spokesperson told KQED in an email Thursday that Farnitano is encouraged by progress on the indicators, and the county is considering allowing curbside retail transactions and logistics and manufacturing operations to resume next week.
There will be a higher bar for a broader reopening that includes gatherings of people, Farnitano says.
The county is reopening courts on May 26.
You can follow the county’s progress through its indicators dashboard.
Progress: County health officials say supply chain problems that limited testing capacity a month ago have largely been resolved. A recent surplus in testing materials allowed Contra Costa to open up testing to the entire county. Testing is made by appointment, and there is no cost to those without insurance.
The supply chain for PPE has also improved, Farnitano says, but he cautions that demand will increase as more medical and dental offices reopen.
The county is currently hiring dozens of “disease intervention technicians” to conduct contact tracing investigations, a spokesperson for Contra Costa Health Services said.
- Hospitalizations and new cases: Hospitalizations have been decreasing and new cases have been flat.
- Hospital capacity: The percentage of COVID-19 patients in hospital beds is currently just over 1 percent.
- Testing: As of May 13, the seven-day rolling average for the county was 51 tests a day per 100,000 residents, about a quarter of the way to the indicator goal.
Stage of reopening: Marin plans on allowing retailers to reopen for curbside transactions and for manufacturing operations to resume on Monday, May 18. Marin also prevously loosened some restrictions, such as the resumption of construction and some outdoor businesses and activities.
Progress: County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis says the health care facilities in the county either have a 30-day supply of PPE on hand or can meet the goal using their current supply schedule.
To perform more testing, Willis says, obtaining enough swabs had been the main barrier, but the county now has a sufficient supply. Marin is now focused on training staff and opening up more sites to increase testing capacity.
The county is currently ramping up it’s contact tracing resources. “We have 52 active cases currently and 15 tracers, with a corps of 33 on deck to be trained.” Willis said. “Current demand matches our supply.”
Willis says the county will consider reopening more low-risk businesses before strictly meeting each benchmark, providing significant progress is made.
This week, the county released an indicators dashboad where you can monitor the key metrics.
- Hospitalizations and new cases: Both have been flat, but have seen a recent uptick.
- Hospital capacity: The percentage of COVID-19 patients occupying hospital beds is currently significantly below the maximum allowed by the indicator.
- Testing: Willis says daily testing numbers still fluctuate and that it’s “too early to say we’re sustainably at our target.”
Stage of reopening: With 83 cases and three deaths, the lowest numbers in the Bay Area, Napa County has been following the state’s reopening road map and is currently in Stage 2. Retail stores have been allowed to open curbside operations since May 8. The county is preparing to apply for a Stage 2 variance, according to the Napa Valley Register, so that it can expand reopenings to include schools, offices and restaurants.
The criteria for obtaining a variance are:
- No more than 1 case per 10,000 people in the last 14 days
- No COVID-19 deaths in the past 14 days
- Minimum daily testing of 1.5 tests per 1,000 residents
- At least 15 contact tracers per 100,000 residents
- County or regional hospital capacity to accommodate a minimum surge of 35%
Progress: The number of new cases reported by the county in the past two weeks put it over the allowable number for a variance. On Sunday, a third COVID-related death occurred, the first in the county in over a month. The county currently reports no COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Stage of reopening: Last week San Francisco tightened its directives for essential businesses, requiring that workers and customers wear face masks, among other mandates. But on Monday, May 18, the city will relax its stay-at-home order by allowing retailers to open for curbside operations and delivery. The new rules require stores to have access to the street, so businesses in malls must remain closed. Mayor London Breed said 95% of the city’s retailers will be allowed to reopen. Manufacturing and warehouse operations can also resume. The city released guidelines for reopening stores Thursday.
- Hospitalizations and new cases: The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has been decreasing, and the number of newly confirmed cases each day has flattened.
- Hospital capacity: COVID-19 patients are currently occupying a small percentage of the city’s available hospital beds.
- Testing: The city’s goal is to conduct 200 tests per 100,000 residents each day. With a population of about 880,000 people, the city will need to increase its testing capacity to roughly 1,760 tests daily to hit this target. This week, Mayor Breed said the city is averaging about 1,000 tests per day. You can track test counts here.
Stage of reopening: San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow said Wednesday he plans to issue an order this week moving the county to early Stage 2 of reopening, in line with the state’s current status. That would allow retail stores to open for curbside and delivery activity, and for manufacturing and logistics operations to resume.
Progess: County spokesperson Michelle Durand said in an email that the “largest hurdle to more people getting tested is residents meeting the criteria for testing.” The county does not run COVID-19 testing labs, but facilitates testing through Verily’s Project Baseline. People must have two symptoms or be a front-line health worker to qualify for a test.
As for health facilities having a 30-day supply of PPE, Durand said, “We don’t know where all individual hospitals are in their PPE supplies because they don’t report that to the county Emergency Operations Center. Hospitals can request PPE from the county Emergency Operations Center, but can also secure it from their own sources.”
- Hospitalizations and new cases: Both have been flat.
- Hospital capacity: The county is under the 50% threshold for patients in COVID-19 hospital beds.
- Testing: As many as 744 tests per day have been administered in the county, which is less than half of what would be needed to meet the indicator goal.
Stage of reopening: The county has no plans to move to Stage 2 yet, county Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. In addition, she added another indicator she would like to see met before loosening restrictions: reducing the coronavirus’ basic reproduction number, which represents the expected number of people who will be infected by a single person with the virus, to below one. “Right now we’re at one, sometimes a little bit below,” she said.
Cody said, “Conditions really haven’t changed in our county. We don’t suddenly have herd community, a vaccine. If we did let up, we would see a quick return of cases, hospitalizations, and a quick return of deaths, to be quite blunt.”
Progress: Cody did say that in terms of the health care system’s ability to cope with the pandemic, “We are doing extraordinarily well.” There is “plenty of capacity in our hospitals,” she said, with available regular and ICU beds. She said the county was “making significant headway” in ensuring that care providers have enough protective equipment.
But the building of “infrastructure” to contain a potential surge in cases was still not complete, she said.
Aside from the indicators, “other factors” including compliance with social distancing rules and quarantine directives, will guide the decision as to when to cut back on restrictions, a county spokesperson wrote in an email.
The county is also watching whether coronavirus cases spike after businesses open elsewhere.
Officials would like to strengthen the supply chain for swabs, testing kits and protective equipment. They are also in a “huge push for expanded testing,” encouraging doctors and hospitals to broaden the requirements to qualify for a test and asking people to seek testing when they are sick.
Most area hospitals have a 30-day supply of protective masks, gowns and other equipment, and the county will continue to monitor the inventory as “services are expanded,” a spokesperson said.
- Hospitalizations and new cases: Both have been flat.
- Hospital capacity: The county is significantly surpassing the 50% target for COVID-19 patients in hospital beds.
- Testing: Santa Clara’s goal of 200 tests per every 100,000 residents per day comes out to about 4,000 tests daily. Currently, the county is testing between 50 and 100 people per every 100,000 residents.
Stage of reopening: Solano County also opted out of the specific indicators adopted by other Bay Area counties.
Instead, Solano has its own road map to recovery, organizing businesses and activities into low- medium-, and high-risk categories, with designations based on “how easy it is to socially distance and to have good sanitation,” said Public Health Administrator Jayleen Richards.
The county allowed low-risk businesses and areas to open on May 8. These include retail stores, manufacturing, pet grooming that can maintain physical distancing, and county and local parks, excluding playgrounds, campgrounds and beaches. Outdoor recreational activities including golf, tennis, hiking, and boating are also allowed.
Higher-risk businesses and activities will be allowed to resume based on their ability to minimize transmission of the virus, the county says.
Progress: In terms of contact tracing, Solano is already exceeding the goal set by other counties, according to Richards.
“We are doing contact tracing for 99% of all the positive cases,” she said.” We isolate them and quarantine their contacts.”
Roughly a dozen people are doing contact tracing, and the county is training 100 additional people in case of a surge, Richards says.
The county also has a month’s worth of PPE and a good supply chain in place, she says.
- Hospitalizations and new cases: The county saw a spike in cases in May with an outbreak at a nursing home. Currently, 15 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized.
- Hospital capacity. The county rates its ICU bed availability as “good.”
- Testing: The county is currently running about 1,500 tests per day, according to Dr. Bela Matyas, the Solano County health officer. Matyas said the goal is to have the capacity to test everyone who wants one.
Stage of reopening: Sonoma County is following the state road map, moving to Stage 2 on May 8. On Thursday, the county amended its order to allow for a wide array of additional reopenings, which can take place as early as Friday, May 15. The county says its amendment is in accordance with the governor’s announcement this week that counties could broaden the types of businesses that can resume operations provided they meet guidelines for social distancing and cleaning.
Specifically mentioned in the order are car washes, pet groomers, dog walkers, janitorial and cleaning services, outdoor museums, offices without telecommuting capability, and child care facilities, among others.
Progress: In an email, Sonoma County Communications and Engagement Coordinator Jennifer Larocque wrote the “county is meeting many of the indicators required by the state. We have attained or are very close to reaching most of the indicators laid out by the governor for regional variance.”
In the area of protective equipment, Larocque said the county is “confident” of supplies available to hospitals. The county will “coordinate closely with them to determine unmet needs.”
Larocque wrote that the indicators that will be most challenging to meet are the number of cases and deaths. As outlined by the state, the county should have no more than one COVID-19 positive case per 10,000 people and zero deaths in the past 14 days. On Monday, the county announced a fourth COVID-19 patient had died.
- Hospitalizations and new cases: Newly confirmed daily cases in May have ranged from three to 21.
- Hospital capacity. The county reports meeting or being very close to the state’s goal of being able to accommodate a minimum surge of 35% in new COVID patients.
- Testing: Larocque says there’s capacity for more than 700 tests per day. This appears to put the county close to or meeting the state’s goal of at least 1.5 tests/day per 1,000 residents.
Reported by Peter Arcuni, Jon Brooks, Laura Klivans and Kevin Stark