4 Bay Area counties delay reopening plans as virus cases surge

At least four Bay Area counties are scaling back reopening plans –as coronavirus cases continue to surge: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Francisco counties have delayed reopening plans.

San Francisco was supposed to move into Phase 3 on Monday, which would have allowed barbershops, tattoo parlors, and outdoor bars to open.

But Mayor London Breed pushed pause last week, after seeing 103 new cases in a single day.

The reversal comes after Breed had first said that the city could accelerate the timeline for reopening businesses.

In Marin County, public health officials have also decided to delay opening gyms, hotels, motels, and short-term rentals.

Indoor restaurants and hair salons will still be allowed to open on Monday. 

In a Youtube video, Marin County's health officer said a spike in cases, increased hospitalizations, and an outbreak at San Quentin Prison means they need to take a more cautious approach.

"Data determines our course," said Dr. Matt Willis. "These are not easy decisions and we have been clear the reopening process will be sequential, gradual, and data-driven.”

Alameda County also hit pause on its reopening plan as it works to address the increase in cases and hospitalization rates in the county.

Contra Costa County announced Monday morning that it modified its timeline for reopening. Officials have decided to delay the reopening of bars, gyms, and nail salons, which were previously planned for July 1, until the COVID-19 outbreak in the county is better contained. 

In downtown Orinda, many businesses had been preparing to open Wednesday including a nail salon that posted a new sign in its window announcing the July 1 reopening had been delayed.

"We have to stay safe. I understand that," said Any Time Fitness General Manager Jaime Edgell, who also added, "It's a bummer. It kinds of sucks."

Edgell Monday cleaned gym equipment that will remain unused for now after Contra Costa delayed its July 1 reopening plans that had given fitness centers, indoor dining and bars the green light to resume business.

"I was so ready to open. So ready to see my members again and kind of get back to a sense of normalcy. And it doesn't seem like that's going to be happening soon," said Edgell, who noted two other locations in the North Bay had already reopened.

The move came after Governor Newsom over the weekend specifically recommended Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties continue to keep bars closed because of their rising rate of cases and hospitalizations..

Contra Costa County's COVID-19 hospitalizations jumped by 75% since mid-June and its positivity rate increased from 4% to 6% as more young people test positive.

In April, the county says 38% of those testing positive for COVID-19 were 40 years or younger.        

In June, that number is up to 55% for that age group, which health officials say is a sign younger people are playing a major role in driving the increase.

"The last thing we want is to do something prematurely and then have to be shut down completely," said Natasha Hart, the manager at Fourth Bore Tap Room & Grill in Orinda. Hart said she wasn't surprised by the delay.

Bars in Santa Clara County have already been closed indefinitely.

At "The Old Wagon Saloon & Grill" in downtown San Jose, general manager Christopher Kohler says outdoor table service is crucial these days as the indoor bar remains closed.

"At our bar, we would only have maybe 5, 6 people at it if we did 6 feet protocol with it. It's kind of pointless to even open at bar at this point anyway," said Kohler.

Santa Clara County's Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody told South Bay officials Monday says her county's curve slowed in April but has since seen a worrisome uptick in cases and hospitalizations in June.

Dr. Cody plans to announce a new longer-term health order in the coming days.

"We're in this fight for the long haul and we need to adapt to the presence of the virus and the risk that it's created," said Cody.