Stay-At-Home Order Extended to May

Stay-At-Home Order Extended to May

Tuesday, March 31, Alameda County joined six other Bay Area health jurisdictions to extend their shelter-in place-order through 11:59 p.m., Sunday, May 3. “The order limits activity, travel and business functions to only the most essential needs,” Alameda County’s Public Health Department announced on its website. According to the department the prior order had been effective in flattening the curve in terms of transmitting COVID-19, but “it is not enough.” 

The announcement extending the order states that COVID-19 cases have increased in the Bay Area more than eightfold since the same seven authorities issued their first stay-at-home order on Sunday, March 15. As a result, Bay Area health officers have determined that “stricter social distancing is needed for a longer period.” 

At press time on Tuesday, there were no reported cases of COVID-19 in Alameda. Little testing has been done, however. The United States simply was not prepared for this pandemic. When federal government’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) saw the disease on the horizon, it devised a test to determine if people complaining of COVID-19’s symptoms — fever, coughing and shortness of breath — had the disease.  Kimberly Hickok, Live Science’s reference editor, points out that “it took seven weeks after authorities identified the first case of the disease in this country for the CDC to start testing en masse.”

On its website, CDC passes the responsibility of getting tested off to state and county authorities. “If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, try calling your state or local health department or a medical provider,” CDC advises. “While supplies of these tests are increasing, it may still be difficult to find a place to get tested.” 

In addition, CDC advises “decisions about testing are at the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual clinicians.” CDC is advising clinicians to “work with their state and local health departments to coordinate testing through public health laboratories, or work with clinical or commercial laboratories.”

Anyone turning to Alameda County for testing will discover that the county’s Public Health Department has prioritized testing those with COVID-19 symptoms. Individuals with symptoms will find that they fall into the “priority-two” category. 

The county had determined that hospitalized patients and healthcare facility workers with symptoms stand at the top of the list. The county says that testing these patients and workers will “lessen the risk of health-care-associated infections and maintain the integrity of the U.S. health-care system.”

The second priority focuses on those with COVID-19 symptoms who are at “the highest risk of complication of infection.” These include patients in long-term care facilities; patients 65 years of age and older; patients with underlying conditions and first responders.”

As resources allow, the county will then test critical infrastructure workers and individuals not included in priorities one or two with symptoms and individuals with mild symptoms who live in communities experiencing high numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations 

The Public Health Department has given anyone without symptoms a “no-priority” status. 

More efficient testing may lie somewhere on the horizon. Hickock points out that testing in the U.S. is beginning to ramp up significantly. However, the latest data available — from last Thursday, March 26 — show that 20 states were only up to a testing rate of 1 per 1,000 people. And six states had tested fewer than 1,000 people.