June 12, 2020
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – 
The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors today voted to ask the state for permission to re-open large sectors of the local economy, including dine-in restaurants, hair salons and gyms.

In the 5-0 vote, the Board directed President Warren Slocum to send a letter to the state supporting an attestation of County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow that the County can satisfy the readiness criteria outlined by the state’s Resilience Roadmap.

Today’s vote is a step toward having San Mateo County “fully align” with California’s Resilience Roadmap,  said Louise Rogers, chief of San Mateo County Health. If the state approves the request, the County’s health orders are expected to be amended to permit a long list of additional activities currently prohibited. The timeline for the state to announce whether it has approved the variance request is open ended.  Until a variance is granted, the county cannot open the additional businesses the state has allowed to open today.

Rogers said the request to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) acknowledges a “balancing act” between protecting the public from the spread of COVID-19 and the need to reduce the economic harm due to shutting down large segments of the economy.

If the variance is approved by the state, Dr. Morrow will issue a revised Shelter In Place order, outlining the health and safety measures businesses must follow in order to open. According to the Resilience Roadmap, the following types of businesses may be considered for reopening with approval of the variance, subject to local guidelines:

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Hair salons and barber shops
  • Family entertainment centers
  • Restaurants, wineries and bars
  • Zoos and museums
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Hotels (for tourism and individual travel)
  • Cardrooms
  • Campgrounds and outdoor recreation
  • Schools and day camps

Personal services like nail salons and tattoo parlors, playgrounds, concert venues and higher education are still not be allowed anywhere in the state.

"I am proud of the resilience our county has shown adhering to the shelter order, especially in communities like East Palo Alto and North Fair Oaks where many had to choose between their physical and economic health during this pandemic," said Board President Warren Slocum, whose District 4 includes both areas.

“Aligning with the state’s roadmap will help our residents and businesses travel toward recovery safely which has always been the ultimate goal,” Slocum said.

Speaking by videoconference to the Board of Supervisors, Rogers said the county has achieved several key health benchmarks. The number of individuals who test positive for COVID-19, for instance, has fallen to 2.3 percent during the past seven days, well below the state’s threshold of 5 percent to allow further economic reopening.

In addition, the County has worked with local, state and federal health care providers to increase capacity to care for COVID-19 patients, built up a supply of personal protective equipment and put protocols in place to prevent and mitigate infections in nursing homes. Rogers said residents have a personal responsibility to continue to follow proper health and safety protocols that will remain in place, including:

  • Washing hands frequently.
  • Screening for COVID-19 symptoms and staying home if feeling ill.
  • Social distancing.
  • Avoiding large gatherings.
  • Wearing face coverings in public.
  • Isolating and quarantining individuals when necessary.
     

“We must continue to follow the rules and guidelines about personal behavior,” said Supervisor Carole Groom. “There are still new people getting this disease every day.”

The County of San Mateo was among the first counties in California to declare a local emergency due to COVID-19 in early March and activate its Emergency Operations Center to coordinate a countywide response. Supervisors credited residents for following health and safety protocols and cited the quick action by local officials to recognize and respond early to the crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If we did not take the aggressive action we had taken, I think it would have been disastrous,” said Supervisor David J. Canepa.

As of June 11, the County has reported a total of 2,533 cases of COVID-19 and 99 deaths. County Health’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard breaks down cases and deaths by gender, race and age and shows the number of new cases each day since the first case was reported in early March.

The full staff report, including the County Variance Attestation form, can be found on the Board’s website.

More information about the County’s COVID-19 response is at www.smcgov.org.