Coronavirus updates: San Mateo health officer calls for ‘less reliance on business sector closures’

Coronavirus updates: San Mateo health officer calls for ‘less reliance on business sector closures’

LATEST July 20, 5:45 p.m. In a Monday evening letter to the community, San Mateo County health officer Dr. Scott Morrow called for “less reliance on business sector closures” and more individual prudence as it relates to mask wearing, social distancing and not mixing with non-household individuals.

“A majority of people we are seeing infected now are frontline workers (people who allow the rest of us to eat, and have electricity, and have our garbage picked up, etc), live in crowded multigenerational conditions, live with lack of trust in, and in fact have downright fear of, government,” he writes.  “Remember to stem the spread of this very transmissible virus, people who are infected need to be separated from others (isolation and quarantine), not go out in public, and not go to work while they are infectious.  Try getting compliance with isolation and quarantine when the infected person is the breadwinner for the family and the family will be out on the street if they don’t go to work.

“And when they go to work they will, perhaps, interact at that job with you. There is not enough enforcement capacity in the world to stop this from happening.  The implication of this is that the current business focused restrictions will do little to stem the spread of the virus when the spread is exacerbated by these conditions.”

Morrow stated that he believes there are structural issues with the U.S. economy that are “illogical, even immoral” that require systemic change.

“We need to see much more work in this area, and we need to have less reliance on business sector closures and restrictions, beyond getting businesses to do the basic transmission control measures,” he wrote. “Failure to fix some of these issues will prolong our collective pain.”

He concluded by stating that most of the county’s new cases stem from social gatherings, and called for no gatherings outside of immediate households.

“Please note, your seemingly innocuous get togethers are driving the spread and are a major reason why you can’t go to a restaurant, why you can’t go to the gym, why you can’t go get your hair cut, why kids can’t go to school,” he wrote.  “Until, or unless more people get this fact, we will continue to be stuck in the situation we are in.  To get out of this situation depends on all of us.  Our collective best course of action: No gatherings outside of immediate households, use facial coverings extensively, and social distancing.”

July 20, 3:30 p.m. Troy Ashmus, a 58-year-old inmate at San Quentin State Prison convicted of raping and murdering a seven-year-old in 1984, has died at an outside hospital following the prison’s coronavirus outbreak.

State officials stated the death appears to be attributable to the virus, and is pending an investigation. The death toll at the prison is now 13.

July 20, 2:00 p.m. During a Monday press conference, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state is seeing “some stabilization” after weeks of increases in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and test positivity.

Newsom shared that the state’s 14-day average for the percentage of positive tests is “holding,” and the seven-day average is actually down week-over-week.

“Our positivity rate over a 14-day period is holding at 7.4%,” he said. “This time last week it was at 7.4%. Our seven-day positivity average was last week at 7.7%, this week it’s at 7.2%…. we’re seeing some stabilization but no one is satisfied being north of 7%, and we got close to 8% last week.”

The governor repeated that the bending of the curve is conditioned to individual behavior, and stated that the reopening of businesses and schools will depend on the choices residents make in their daily lives.

“These numbers can change very, very quickly again depending on our personal behavior,” Newsom said. “Some total of which will determine the direction of the lines on this graph and ultimately the direction of our ability to reopen this economy and get our schools back open, as all of us so desperately look forward to.”

In addition, Newsom stated that while hospitalizations are still increasing, the percent increases each week are decreasing.

“Two weeks ago we put up on Monday our hospitalization numbers that said we were increasing over a two-week period by 50%,” he said. “Last week Monday, we were increasing over a two-week period by 28%. This week, over a two-week period we’re increasing 16%. So 50, to 28, to 16. That’s an encouraging sign.”

July 20, 1:40 p.m. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press briefing Monday new guidelines are now available for hair and nail salons, barbershops and other personal services that wish to operate outdoors.

Newsom said previous guidelines were unclear and didn’t address local ordinances, such as rules around the outdoor use of chemicals. Read more here.

July 20, noon Napa County is now fining people who go outside in public without a face mask $250 to $500.

The new Urgency Enforcement Ordinance also stipulates businesses that fail to enforce the mask requirement can be fined up to $5,000.

The ordinance will be enforced by employees who work in the county’s code enforcement office, not by police or sheriff’s deputies.

Read the full ordinance here.

July 20, 11:15 a.m. Los Angeles County reports that at least 15 children have been diagnosed with a rare and potentially deadly inflammatory syndrome associated with the coronavirus, according to the Los Angeles Times.

July 20, 9:50 a.m.: The CIF announced Monday that high school sports are being postponed.

High school football won’t start until the spring, with its championship held in April 2021, and winter/spring sports like basketball won’t hold playoffs until June 2021. Read more here.

July 20, 7:15 a.m. San Francisco was added to the state’s watch list Friday due to heightened coronavirus transmission and hospitalization rates, and as a result indoor malls are closing in the city Monday.

The new designation means the city must close malls and non-essential offices Monday, July 20. Both Stonestown and Westfield, which opened last month, have shuttered their doors. Stores with street-side entrances outside of the mall interior can remain open.

Many counties on the list have been forced to stall reopening plans or roll back openings of sectors such as gyms and hair salons, but San Francisco has been on a slower timeline, delaying many reopenings, and is less impacted.

As of Monday morning, 33 of the state’s 58 counties were on the watch list, representing the vast majority of the state population. In the Bay Area, eight counties are on the list Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma. San Mateo remains the only county in the Bay Area not on the list.

Being on the list puts restrictions on the ability to reopen various segments of the economy and those on the list for more than three consecutive days must shut down or not reopen gyms and fitness centers; places of worship and cultural ceremonies, like weddings and funerals; offices for non-critical infrastructure sectors; personal care services, like nail salons, body waxing and tattoo parlors; and shopping malls.

California had 384,692 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday, resulting in 7,685 deaths. The rate of positive tests over the last 14 days is 7.4 percent.

A view of the Cliff House restaurant on October 10, 2013.

A view of the Cliff House restaurant on October 10, 2013.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

July 20, 7 a.m. The Cliff House, which has been serving meals overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Ocean Beach for 157 years, announced Sunday afternoon the restaurant will close temporarily, suspending take-out service starting Monday.

“Due to economic pressure during this unprecedented situation, we have concluded that it would be best to preserve our remaining resources to ensure a continuance of future operations,” the venerable restaurant announced Sunday on its Facebook page. “This was not an easy decision to make, especially considering all of the support we have received from all of you.”

The announcement said take-out service would also end, at least temporarily, at the nearby Lookout Cafe.

Sunday’s Facebook announcement noted that the Cliff House’s spacious dining room would allow for sufficient social distancing between diners puts the restaurant “uniquely positioned” for survival in a COVID-19 world. But in-house dining is not allowed at all as part of the state’s health order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bay City News contributed to this story.

Coronavirus in the greater Bay Area: Links you need


Alameda County: Find the latest COVID-19 numbers and health order.

Contra Costa County: Find the latest COVID-19 numbers and health order.

Lake County: Find the latest COVID-19 numbers and health order.

Marin County: Find the latest COVID-19 numbers and health order.

Monterey County: Find the latest COVID-19 numbers and health order.

Napa County: Find the latest COVID-19 numbers and health order.

San Benito County: Find the latest COVID-19 numbers and health order.

San Francisco County: Find the latest COVID-19 numbers and health order.

San Mateo County: Find the latest COVID-19 numbers and health order.

Santa Clara County: Find the latest COVID-19 numbers and health order.

Santa Cruz County: Find the latest COVID-19 numbers and health order.

Solano County: Find the latest COVID-19 numbers and health order.

Sonoma County: Find the latest COVID-19 numbers and health order.


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