Local health officials, government agencies and citizens alike were anxiously tracking the state’s watch list as San Mateo County remained the only Bay Area County not being closely monitored by the state due to rising coronavirus numbers.
After San Francisco joined the list on Friday, San Mateo County was the only Bay Area county not being monitored by the state. Statewide, 33 of 58 counties are now on the watchlist. The numbers included the count as of Tuesday afternoon.
The state’s website says that counties that have been on the state’s monitoring list for three consecutive days are required to shut down some key indoor businesses, including gyms, churches, hair salons and shopping malls.
After Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement on Friday, being on the watch list also means all school districts within the county would have to start remotely until they’re off the watch list for two consecutive weeks.
On Monday, San Mateo County reported 110 new cases, the second-highest case spike to date, bringing the county total up to more than 4,600. The Bay Area as a whole is seeing a similar uptick in cases, and area hospitalizations hit a record high on Friday at 665.
County Health Chief Lousie Rogers said at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting that two measures may drive the county onto the state’s watch list. First is its case rate, currently exceeding 100 cases per 100,000 residents. Also concerning is its high variability of hospitalizations, which has been swinging by more than the state benchmark of 10 percent since July 14.
County Health Officer Scott Morrow released a new statement this week, calling out systemic economic failures that have made complying with health orders difficult and urging residents not to get complacent. Morrow said the virus is more infectious than he had imagined.
“I know this is hard, we’re all exhausted and frustrated by having to take precautions, but the implication of this fact is that you can’t let your guard down, or be careless, even once, especially if you are at high risk,” Morrow wrote.
County Manager Mike Callagy said staying off the list is critical, not just for the health of the county’s residents, but for its businesses as well. County Supervisor David Canepa agreed, and warned about the dire effects for the local economy of reverting to more closures.
“I think it would be absolutely catastrophic if we go into shelter-in-place 2.0,” Canepa said.