San Francisco Extends Shelter-in-Place Orders, Is LA Next?
Policymakers announced this week that six San Francisco-area counties and the city of Berkeley will keep their shelter-in-place orders active through the end of May.
Hang tight, California — you could be stuck at home for even longer than expected.
Officials throughout the state have touted “substantial progress in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus,” and the success of stay-at-home orders. But policymakers in California’s Bay Area announced this week that six San Francisco-area counties and the city of Berkeley will keep their shelter-in-place orders active through the end of May. The order will affect about seven million people.
“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,” Bay Area officials said in a joint statement on April 27. “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.”
As of Tuesday, California has more than 45,200 confirmed coronavirus cases, and nearly 1,800 deaths.
Orders in the Bay Area were initially set to expire on May 3, and other counties like Los Angeles — where there are nearly 20,500 cases alone — initially extended the orders to May 15. That gives the Southern California region more time to expand its orders like the Bay Area, should policymakers decide to do so. Any changes would need to be made by L.A. County’s Department of Public Health (DPH).
Governor Gavin Newsom has said the road to economic recovery will be long and difficult, but he also announced prerequisites needed to help figure out the appropriate time to reopen closed industries. The new order in the Bay Area will include limiting specific restrictions for a small number of lower-risk activities, but the statement did not include specifics, and said the new orders largely keep the current restrictions in place through May.
“This global pandemic of COVID-19 is still in its early stages,” Bay Area officials added, in their statement. “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…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.”
While L.A.’s order remains in effect until at least May 15, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors signaled that it’s focused on reopening. Earlier today, the board approved a handful of new measures that will help plot a path to restarting the economy. One motion directed the DPH and other health service agencies and departments to report within a week on measures needed for both the containment of coronavirus and prerequisites for relaxing the safer-at-home orders.
Social distancing of the vast majority of residents in L.A. County has slowed the spread of coronavirus, according to the supervisors, but the 10 million residents, businesses and communities have “suffered significant loss in addressing the pandemic.”
The motions approved by L.A. County on Tuesday include a plan to engage the business community and labor partners with plans to relax restrictions to reopen under the physical distancing and face-covering public health guidelines. Any plan to relax public health orders must be based on appropriate health data indicators from health department officials in coordination with state and federal guidelines, the motion read.
According to the California Employment Development Department, more than 3.1 million Californians filed for unemployment benefits over the last month, surpassing the total claims in all of 2008 at the start of the Great Recession.
Another motion from L.A. County lawmakers established an Economic Resiliency Task Force, which will put forward a comprehensive plan to revive the economy and return it to the full employment rate experienced before the outbreak. The task force will develop a plan and recommendations for short-term, medium-term, and long-term recovery, and it will identify financial incentives to spur economic recovery.
The county will also consider incentivizing adaptive reuse development along financially impacted corridors, and create a fund for micro-grants to help underserved communities, and issue grants to small businesses for reopening.
The county’s task force follows the state’s recent formation of the State Task Force on Business & Job Recovery to put together a strategy, including actions for governments and businesses.