State health officials announced on Monday that they have lifted stay-at-home orders statewide as intensive-care-unit capacity projections improve. The announcement allows for some more commerce, including outdoor dining, and ends the nighttime curfew.
The Bay Area region, which includes San Mateo County, was among the regions still under the order as a result of a holiday surge of cases and low hospital capacity. State numbers on Monday showed 23.4 percent ICU capacity available in the Bay Area, up from single digits this month.
On Monday, San Mateo County was reporting seven available ICU beds. That’s also up slightly from numbers closer to two or three beds over the last month.
Monday’s change reverts the state back to relying on the colored tier system, which is based on case rates and other factors indicating the local spread of COVID-19.
San Mateo County looks poised to remain in the purple tier, where cases are “widespread” and activities are most limited. That would allow restaurants to reopen to outdoor dining and hair salons and barbershops to resume services, too.
Also lifted is the nightly curfew banning nonessential activity between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
The decision comes as San Mateo County and the state as a whole is still battling its worst surge of COVID-19 cases and deaths yet, with cases and deaths up exponentially as new variants of the disease may be accelerating transmission. But the regional increase in capacity to handle new cases — alongside the rollout of the vaccine to health care workers — offers a ray of hope.
Still, local health officials say now is not the time to get complacent.
“Our ICUs are still very full,” county health official Anand Chabra said at a town hall last week. “Maybe we’ve peaked, but we haven't dropped to a great level yet. … We can’t let our guard down.”