After nearly two weeks of successfully remaining off the state COVID-19 watchlist, San Mateo County officials are telling business owners to prepare for closures to be enforced starting Saturday.
County officials announced during a virtual press conference that Wednesday marked the beginning of a three-day preliminary monitoring process to determine whether the county should be officially forced to shutter business operations. Closures are not being enforced as of now but officials said it’s unlikely the county will avoid the restrictions.
“We believe it’s unwarranted and there needs to be a more surgical approach to shutdowns than we’re seeing here,” said County Manager Mike Callagy.
The additional restrictions would require closures of hair salons, barbershops, other personal care services, gyms, malls, offices of nonessential businesses and places of worship, including weddings and funerals. Many indoor establishments, including restaurants, museums, zoos and theaters, have been shuttered following a July 13 state mandate.
In-person instruction for middle and high school students will also be put on hold. Face-to-face classes will only be allowed to meet once the county remains off the watchlist for at least 14 days. Elementary school districts may request a waiver from the health officer to conduct at-school lessons.
The county has until Saturday to fall into compliance with state guidelines, mainly by maintaining a 14 day average of less than 100 positive cases per 100,000 residents and keeping changes in hospitalization below 10% based on a three day average. The county’s case rate, based on a 14-day rolling average, is 110.4 positive cases per 100,000 population.
Currently, the county has 5,306 positive cases after processing over 101,000 tests. Of the positive cases, 118 residents have died from the highly infectious respiratory disease, four more than reported last week following 14 days of no deaths.
Additionally, Latinos have remained the most affected by the disease, testing at higher rates than any other ethnic group. Younger community members in the 20 to 29 age range and 30 to 39 age range are also most at risk of testing positive for the virus, though fatalities are more likely for those in the 80 to 89 age group and 90 plus age group.
Of the 70 county residents being hospitalized, 16 are receiving care within the ICU and eight are out-of-county patients. Despite case counts rising across the region, long-term care facilities have maintained steady throughout July.
Officials continue to implore residents to social distance, remaining at least 6 feet apart from others. Locals are also encouraged to hand wash and sanitize regularly while following the state mandated face coverings requirement.