SAN FRANCISCO -- Five Bay Area counties have decided not to wait for the state's planned regional stay-at-home order and are implementing the new restrictions ahead of schedule.
Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and the City of Berkeley (which has its own public health department) announced the new measures in a joint press conference Friday afternoon.
Here's what will change when the order goes into effect:
Schools that have already received a waiver to reopen can stay open. All "critical infrastructure" can remain open, as well.
The start date varies slightly based on county. Contra Costa, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties say their orders will take effect Sunday, Dec. 6 at 10 p.m. In Alameda County, the stay-at-home order starts Monday, Dec. 7 at 12:01 a.m. Marin County is last to join on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at noon.
In all cases, the stay-at-home order will last through Jan. 4.
The health officers said that if they were to wait for the state's order, which is triggered when a region has only 15% ICU capacity remaining, it would be too late.
"The dark COVID winter that we feared would come has arrived in the Bay Area," said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County health officer. "I and other county health officers in the Bay Area don't think we can wait for the state's new restrictions to go into effect later this month. We must act swiftly to save as many lives as we can. This is an emergency."
BAY AREA ICU CAPACITY: How close we are to the 15% threshold and California's new stay-at-home order
As we enter the peak holiday season, the health leaders are asking everyone to stay home and avoid absolutely all social gatherings.
"You should not meet in person with anyone you do not live with. Even in a small group, and even outdoors with precautions," said Berkeley's Dr. Lisa Hernandez. "If you have a social bubble, it is now popped."
The number of remaining ICU beds is most concerning in Santa Clara County, where it has just dropped to 14%, said health officer Dr. Sara Cody.
The "Bay Area" region as it's defined by the state includes Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties, according to the state.
The six other counties not participating in Friday's press conference won't be compelled to enact more restrictions until the entire region has ICU capacity under 15%. However, each county is always allowed to implement stricter regulations than the state, just not looser restrictions.
As things stand, the Bay Area is projected to reach that 15% threshold by mid-December. When that happens the entire region will have to close more businesses and enter a stay-at-home order similar to the one we had in March.
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