Santa Clara County's new health order restricting higher-risk activities to reduce the likelihood of area hospitals becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients is gaining big support Saturday from health officials in four Bay Area counties.
Health officials in the city of Berkeley are also expressing support for Santa Clara County's new order. Officials in Santa Clara County -- the Bay Area's largest county with nearly two million residents -- estimate that hospitals there will reach or exceed capacity in the coming weeks unless some decisive action is taken to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the South Bay.
The new rules, for businesses and residents, takes effect Monday. The latest orders reduce the number of customers allowed in stores at any given time, for example. The new rules would also limit hotels in the county to only essential travel and require travelers coming into the county from distances greater than 150 miles to quarantine first for 14 days.
All youth, collegiate contact sports in Santa Clara County will also be temporarily prohibited. That includes the San Francisco 49ers, who play at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.
Health officials throughout the Bay Area have explained that they have yet to reach the same critical point as Santa Clara County, but admit they may also have to take similar actions soon in order to preserve remaining regional hospital capacity to treat COVID-19 while still treating non-COVID-19 medical conditions, such as severe illnesses caused by flu.
A month ago, 262 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the greater Bay Area. That number has nearly tripled to 759, the latest count. Health officers in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Francisco counties, and the city of Berkeley, express their unified support for Santa Clara County's new rules.
"COVID doesn't care about borders or county lines. What is happening in Santa Clara County now may reach that level elsewhere in the Bay Area in the near future," said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County's health officer.