San Mateo County waits to impose Newsom stay-at-home order, as rest of Bay Area takes early approach

Newsom asked California counties to implement the order if ICU capacity falls below 15%

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly suggested that California's San Mateo County will not immediately follow Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shelter-in-place order. Rather, the county will follow the governor’s order, but will not do so early, before it meets the criteria, as its sister counties have decided to do.

San Mateo County will not join other Bay Area counties in implementing Gov. Gavin Newsom's regional new stay-at-home order early as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations spike in the state.

Newsom announced new orders Thursday asking Californians in areas where hospital ICU capacity has reached 85% to stay home and close business operations for at least three weeks starting Saturday.

On Friday, the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara and the city of Berkeley announced they would begin following Newsom’s shelter orders early, before they met the threshold, the San Mateo Daily Journal reported. 

According to San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy, San Mateo, where ICU capacity is currently at 40%, has chosen to wait to impose the shelter-in-place order until conditions in the county align with the governor’s orders.

“We have decided to follow the governor’s lead; it’s a well-thought-out plan,” Callagy told Fox News on Sunday. “We’re team players, but we've decided not to do it earlier than we need to.” 

San Mateo County said on Thursday that it will work with the community and businesses to enforce the state's strictest existing restrictions under its "purple tier" category, diverging from the other Bay Area counties.

Callagy said county officials are urging residents to "adhere to ongoing messages" about social gatherings to stem the growing surge.

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San Mateo noted in a Wednesday blog post that California expects the Bay Area region to fall below the 15% ICU threshold by mid-December, while other counties could reach that threshold "within days."

San Mateo County Chief of Health Louise Rogers said in a statement that the county acknowledges "the reality of the pandemic fatigue that residents are experiencing and the need to find sources of support through this challenging period."

A woman wears a mask during the coronavirus outbreak while crossing a street in front of the skyline in San Francisco, April 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

A woman wears a mask during the coronavirus outbreak while crossing a street in front of the skyline in San Francisco, April 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

"Our collective focus must be on finding ways to support each other through this crisis safely while limiting gathering and adhering to face covering," Rogers said.

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The state of about 40 million people recorded a new high of more than 25,000 positive COVID-19 tests and more than 200 deaths on Saturday. San Mateo, which has a population of about 770,000 people, recorded 177 new cases and six deaths Friday, but the county's website states that data are incomplete.

Bay Area counties neighboring San Mateo said they would follow Newsom's stay-at-home order early, before ICU capacity fell below 15%.

"We are at a tipping point in our fight against the virus and we need to take decisive action now to prevent California’s hospital system from being overwhelmed in the coming weeks," Newsom said in a Thursday statement. "By invoking a Stay at Home Order for regions where ICU capacity falls below 15[%], we can flatten the curve as we’ve done before and reduce stress on our health care system."

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Newsom added that California "leaned in" to help its small business owners "with new grants and tax relief" to help them get through the month of December.

"If we stay home as much as possible, and wear masks when we have to go to the doctor, shop for groceries or go for a hike, California can come out of this in a way that saves lives and puts us on a path toward economic recovery," he said.