7 Bay Area jurisdictions to extend stay-at-home orders through May

Coming as no surprise, public officers representing seven Bay Area jurisdictions plan to extend shelter in place orders this week, authorities announced on Monday.

Public health officers for the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and the City of Berkeley, which has its own public health department, will largely keep current restrictions in place and extend them through May, though no specific date has been given. 

"Today, unfortunately, we will need to extend the deadline for this stay at home order through the month of May," San Francisco Mayor London Breed confirmed during her daily news briefing. 

Stay-at-home orders around the Bay Area were set to expire on Friday, May 3. 

But last week Napa County extended its order indefinitely and Solano County pushed its order back through May 17. 

According to a joint press release, "the new order will include limited easing of specific restrictions for a small number of lower-risk activities." 

The Bay Area has made significant strides in the fight against COVID-19, but public health leaders have cautioned against reopening too soon.  

"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," officials said in a statement. "Hospitalizations have leveled, but more work is needed to safely re-open our communities."

They fear lifting restrictions at this point in time could lead to a surge in new COVID-19 cases.

Health officers will also release a set of broad indications that will be used to track progress in preparedness and response to the virus in alignment with the framework being used by the state. 

In order to ease restrictions, each jurisdiction and various sectors must continue building critical infrastructure and systems to respond to and control the spread of COVID-19 while also ensuring the health care system has the ability to meet the demand.

Among other factors, San Francisco Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said he would like to see a sustained decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases before lifting the city's order. 

"I do think we need to see some of the changes in the data we talked about today," he said. "The reduction of people living with Covid-19. The increase in testing. Our ability to monitor the epidemic and get adequate PPE."

Colfax said even when the stay-at-home orders are finally removed, life won't go back to the way it was before. 

"This means establishing and sticking to what will be the new normal," Colfax said. "This will include staying six feet apart, covering our faces, washing our hands frequently, and still staying home as much as possible."