SAN FRANCISCO — Five San Francisco Bay Area counties on Friday announced they would impose a stay-at-home order as early as Sunday night, saying that hospitals are already so overcrowded that the time to act is now, rather than waiting for the region to pass a state threshold for a regional order.
It would be too late to act if the Bay Area's intensive care units, as a region, waited until they fell to only 15% of capacity, which is the state's threshold for implementing a stay-at-home order, officials said.
The orders will go into effect in San Francisco, Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties on Sunday; in Alameda County on Monday and Marin County on Tuesday. The four other Bay Area counties — San Mateo, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties — are not part of the joint action.
"Waiting until only 15% of a region's ICU beds are available is just too late," said Dr. Tomas Aragon, health officer for San Francisco. "Many heavily impacted parts of our region already have less than 15% of ICU beds available, and the time to act is now."
"We cannot wait until after we have driven off the cliff to pull the emergency brake," said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County health officer. "We understand the closures ... will have a profound impact on our local businesses. However, if we act quickly, we can both save lives and reduce the amount of time these restrictions have to stay in place, allowing businesses and activities to reopen sooner."
Santa Clara County could run out of its normal supply of staff ICU beds within a week, said Dr. Grant Colfax, the director of health of San Francisco, in a briefing. "This surge is so much more serious than we've seen before," Colfax said.
The city of Berkeley, which has its own independent public health department separate from Alameda County, will also join the order.
The Bay Area counties participating in the stay-at-home order will implement the state's regional stay-at-home order early, which closes many nonessential businesses with the exception of all retail stores, which will be capped at 20% capacity.
Here's what closes under the order:
— Outdoor restaurant dining