UPDATED 2:55 p.m.: San Mateo County’s wait ended on Wednesday when it was added to the state COVID-19 watchlist. It was the last county in the Bay Area to escape the unhappy distinction, and the consequences for area businesses are grim.
San Mateo County was added due to an increase in the rate of COVID-19 cases here. The county’s case rate today, based on a 14-day rolling average, is 110.4 positive cases per 100,000 of population, according to the San Mateo County Health Department. The state’s threshold for inclusion on the monitoring list is a case rate of 100.
Thirty-seven of the state’s 58 counties are on the list, which tracks new cases, hospitalizations and hospital capacity as well as other aspects of disease transmission. More than 93 percent of the state’s population lives in counties on the monitoring list.
Being on the list carries real-world consequences. If the county is on the list for three or more days consecutively, it must shut down gyms and fitness centers, places of worship (including weddings and funerals,) non-essential offices, personal care services like nail salons and barbershops as well as shopping malls. Those businesses may still operate outdoors under strict guidelines or arrange for curbside pick-up of goods.
It would also mean that schools must start with remote learning — a requirement that dovetails with plans already in places at Cabrillo Unified School District.
“We’ve been anticipating being added to the monitoring list as our case rate hovers above the state’s target,” said San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy in a prepared release. “It’s clear that COVID-19 continues to spread in our community and in the Bay Area. It’s vital that we all do everything we can — wearing face coverings, washing our hands, and avoiding gatherings — to slow and eventually stop to the spread. These individual actions can make a huge difference.”
The state has not offered guidelines for when restrictions might be lifted.