COUNTY and city officials from seven Bay Area counties issued a “shelter-in-place” order this week for its residents in a bid to stop the spread of the newly-discovered coronavirus (SARS-CoV2), which has been designated as COVID-19, in areas where cases are increasing.
The order, announced on Monday, March 16, affects about 7 million people in San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, including the cities of Berkeley and Oakland, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
The mandate orders residents to stay home (and work from home if employers provide for it) and only venture outside for food, medicine and outings that are considered essential.
The shelter-in-place order, which started at midnight on Tuesday, March 17, will be in effect until April 7. It aligns with California Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement on Monday via Facebook Live which asked, “all our California restaurants to close down for the moment, provide takeout if they wish, and operate in that frame.”
Gyms, health clubs and movie theaters should shutter their operations, according to Newsom, adding to the list of establishments he asked to close for the time being across the state, which included bars, wineries, brewpubs, nightclubs and similar businesses.
Sacramento County, along with the Yolo County community of Davis and the San Joaquin County community of Manteca issued a directive on Tuesday, March 17 asking residents to stay home to help mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, per a report from Fox40 Web Desk.
Days earlier, many school districts in the state had shut down educational institutions in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with some offering classes online. If the entire academic year gets canceled, which Newsom fears might happen in a worst-case scenario, school districts are preparing to deliver educational materials via online.
There are exemptions to the order, which includes employees of businesses that are allowed to stay open during this time like restaurants (providing take-out options to patrons), groceries, gas stations, pharmacies, hardware stores, the postal service and banks, as well as workers in hospitals, health care facilities and emergency service providers and other essential public services.
National parks and state parks will also remain open at this time except for indoor spaces, which may be used by people for outdoor exercise or to walk their pets. Those who do so are asked to practice social distancing (have a space of not less than 6 feet away from other individuals) and pick up after their pets and dispose of garbage properly.
As of Tuesday, per a report from MSN.com, there are 392 cases in California, with six deaths. San Mateo County reported a surge of 22 new cases on its website, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 64, and one death. Santa Clara County has the most number of cases so far with 138, and four deaths.
The same report stated that San Francisco County has 40 cases, Santa Cruz County has nine cases, Marin County has 11 cases, Alameda County has 18 cases, and Contra Costa County has 34 cases. No deaths were reported for these counties.
Although local officials cautioned the public from panicking and hoarding supplies as the “shelter-in-place” order went into effect, groceries, pharmacies and similar establishments were deluged by shoppers on Monday.
In the normally sleepy, laid-back town of Pacifica, long lines of shoppers in Safeway waiting to check out with carts and baskets full of grocery items seemed on edge as workers tried to process customers as fast as they could.
A shopper wearing a mask said she could not believe the craziness of the situation, and was amazed at how there was some order in the chaotic environment of people grabbing groceries in between lines of customers that snaked down the grocery aisles to the back of the store.
As customers waited, an announcement over the public address system informed customers of a change in store hours, reflecting the change in the business hours of many establishments who will continue to operate during the “shelter-in-place” time frame.
As both elderly and disabled shoppers, as well as those who have a high risk for the coronavirus, jostle with shoppers, some chains, including Target, Whole Foods and Dollar General, recently announced they are now offering exclusive early shopping hours for the elderly and those vulnerable to COVID-19.
In the Bay Area, Filipino Americans are trying to grapple with the shelter-in-place mandate and create a semblance of normalcy for themselves and their families.
Gale Tan Ong of Cupertino told the Asian Journal via text that her family is “staying home and trying our best to keep our spirits high in these trying times.”
“We are using this time to revisit old books and enjoy the simple things in life like cooking, baking, crafts and spending time having those important conversations about life that we have somehow neglected because of our busy lives,” she said, while adding that it was a challenge to have to quarantine her child after arriving home from college.
Stephanie Valencia of San Jose said she is working from home and “find myself looking forward to breaks watching KDrama [Korean television series]” and “limiting my time to watch the news.”
“It has helped me cope with this unsettling feeling,” she said. “Lately, I have a need to take a walk outside in our neighboring park and on longer trails on the weekend with my husband. This isolation has increased my need for social networking, connecting with family and friends through virtual meetings.”
“With WFH [work from home], I am exhausted!” said Lally Reyes of Dublin. “I am barely able to stand for breaks. My day is full of meetings and when not in meetings, responding to emails and work on my deliverables. I am also working longer.”
Reyes added that they have dinner and walk or move around the house after the workday. “We also take time to video call family and friends daily. Then, we go to bed as my body is tight from being in front of the computer all day. It is exhausting, regardless!” she added.
Vi Cruz of Sacramento, CA told the Asian Journal that she is working from home, but it is “not as productive as I want it to be.” Cruz said she is trying to stay positive despite being anxious of the situation.
“I try to walk around the house as much as possible. I am constantly checking FB [Facebook] and doing a lot of browsing to get updates, watch news and movies,” she added.
Benjamin Ong of Concord, who telecommutes for work, said he spends the day working.
“On weekends, I watch TV, clean, do other chores like laundry and walk my dog,” he told the Asian Journal via email.
With two daughters at home, Ivy Castro-Antonio said they are trying as a family to maintain a positive outlook in life and pray that a vaccine is found soon.
“We are thankful that we’re able to spend time as a family. We take advantage of this time to talk to our daughters about how they feel about wha’s going on around them, talk about it and try to appease them that this too shall pass,” Castro-Antonio said. “I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home so I can at least stay with them while I work everyday.”
The Sacramento resident said that she asks her daughters to read books and news articles (which she and her husband discuss with them afterward), check on their Google classrooms for assignments, have them help cook lunch and even dinner.
“We reintroduced board games, puzzles, card games, etc. so we play and do that together as well,” she further said. “In addition, when the weather is nice we walk outside to get some exercise in.”
The Zialcitas of San Jose have a full house right now with their three kids back home.
While the couple and their eldest are working from home, the two younger children are busy finishing classes and homework online. They also have more time to play with their newly-adopted dog, Leo, as they do not have to drive to school and go to work, and take the children to activities like soccer and track which have all been canceled.
“The challenge for me is keeping up our fridge and pantry stocked because these boys eat a lot,” they said in a text message.