Health officers from seven counties including San Mateo County announced today a plan to extend their shelter-in-place orders, which were set to expire on Sunday, through the month of May. Details of the extension, including easing some restrictions for low-risk activities, are to be released later this week.

“Hospitalizations have leveled, but more work is needed to safely re-open our communities,” the statement said. “Prematurely lifting restrictions could easily lead to a large surge in cases.”

The latest numbers from the San Mateo County Department of Health website show 1,080 COVID-19 cases and 41 deaths countywide, with more than 11,000 residents tested and an average of nearly 25 new cases reported per day. The website reiterates county Health Officer Scott Morrow’s statement earlier this month that the case numbers are likely an underestimation because of testing limitations.

In his media briefing last Friday, County Manager Mike Callagy said the county is also planning to release reported cases by ZIP code this week. He said those numbers will be accompanied by infection rates to give a full picture of the spread of the disease. Callagy warned residents not to take a low number of local cases as a sign that COVID-19 isn’t dangerous in one area.

“It’s highly contagious, and many people are asymptomatic but still spreading it ...” Callagy said. “We will (add infection rates) so that we don’t paint an unrealistic picture for those members of every city who might think, ‘Oh, I just have a couple here, so we’re safe.’ That is not the case.”

Callagy echoed that more information on limited reopening of some activities, including gradual reopening of some parks and trails, is forthcoming, but said general social distancing and mask requirements will continue. Callagy recognized the difficulty of continuing shelter-in-place, especially as the weather gets warmer, but encouraged residents to abide by the five-mile order and not crowd beaches or overwhelm coastal grocery stores.

“We don’t want to get to the fall and have this spread like wildfire again,” Callagy said.

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