Updated March 19, 3:05 p.m.
By CapRadio Staff
On Thursday at midnight, a legal order for Sacramento County residents to stay inside unless absolutely necessary will take effect. The order follows a directive issued Tuesday and similar orders in other California counties to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Here's what it means for the more than 1.5 million Sacramento County residents:
Why was the order issued?
As of March 19, there have been at least 45 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Sacramento County and three deaths related to the virus, including a substitute teacher on Monday.
But officials have said that without more testing it's difficult to know how many cases are in the community. They say that restricting contact between people is the only way to "flatten the curve" and reduce the number of people who get sick at the peak of an outbreak, which could overwhelm the health care system.
What does it mean to 'shelter in place'?
The order requires Sacramento County residents to stay indoors unless it is absolutely essential that they leave, with certain exemptions (see below). Non-essential government and business operations will shut down, as will gatherings of any size.
When does it take effect?
The legal order takes effect Thursday, March 19 at 11:59 p.m. and lasts at least through 11:59 p.m. on April 7, but could be extended.
Officials said that it is likely that the order will extend through April, and could extend through the summer months if the situation continues.
The county’s initial directive extended indefinitely.
Engaging in essential activities is allowed (see full list below). That includes things like trips to hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, banks and gas stations.
It's OK to do things for a go for a run or walk your dog as long you practice proper social distancing, meaning you stay at least six feet away from people not in your immediate household. But that means you shouldn't closely socialize with friends or others who don't live with you (no dinner parties or playdates).
What activities am I allowed to take part in?
These are the activities listed as essential and allowed under the order:
- Activities or tasks essential to the health and safety of you or members of your family or household, like getting medical supplies or medication, visiting a health care professional or obtaining supplies to work from home.
- Obtaining or delivering necessary services for yourself or members of your family or household like food, groceries or other cleaning products.
- Engaging in activities like walking, hiking, biking or running, so long as you comply with social distancing requirements.
- Working at essential businesses, government entities and other nonprofit organizations.
- Caring for a family member or pet in another household.
- Attending private gatherings of six or fewer nonrelatives in a home or place of residence, so long as you abide by social distancing requirements at all times.
Can restaurants stay open?
Restaurants can stay open for pickup or delivery. Bars, wineries, brewpubs and other non-essential businesses were already asked to shut down in guidelines issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.
What else will stay open?
Here are the businesses deemed essential:
- Health care operations
- Grocery stores, super markets, food banks and other sites selling food, pet supplies and other household products
- Gas stations and auto-supply, sales and auto-repair shops
- Banks and related financial institutions
- Agriculture, food and beverage cultivation, processing and distribution (not for retail business)
- Businesses that provide food, shelter & other social services to the economically disadvantaged
- Newspapers, television, radio and other media
- Hardware stores and service providers like plumbers, electricians & exterminators
- Mailing and shipping services
- Educational institutions for distance learning so long as social distancing requirements are abided by
- Laundromats & other laundry service providers
- Restaurants, but only for delivery or take out
- Businesses supplying products people need to work from home
- Businesses supplying other essential businesses with support or supplies
- Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, and other necessities to residences
- Airlines, taxis & other private transportation
- Home-based care & residential facilities for seniors, adults or children
- Legal and accounting services when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities
- Childcare facilities carrying out services in stable groups of 12 or fewer children where children do not change from one group to another and where each group is in a separate room and not mixing with one another and providers do not switch between groups.
Should I go to my medical appointments or scheduled procedures?
Start by calling your doctor to find out whether you should keep an appointment or a scheduled procedure.
Dignity Health, Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente are all postponing elective surgeries. Dignity has also postponed non-essential visits, and Kaiser is moving many of its patients to virtual appointments.
UC Davis Medical Center is not postponing elective procedures, though patients may choose to cancel them if they do not want to be in a health care setting.
The U.S. Surgeon General has recommended that hospitals suspend elective surgeries during the COVID-19 pandemic, to expand hospitals’ capacity to provide critical care if there is a surge of patients due to the virus.
How will this be enforced?
The order asks that the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and all chiefs of police in the county enforce the order, but does not list specific penalties for failing to follow the protocol.
Are other counties doing this?
Monday six Bay Area counties and Santa Cruz issued similar orders. Monterey County also did so Tuesday, as did the cities of Davis and Manteca. Yolo County announced a shelter in place order Wednesday. Yuba and Sutter counties issued a joint order taking effect Thursday at midnight.
These orders are changing quickly. Check with your county health department for the most up to date information about your area.
I can't go to my job. What can I do?
Workers who have lost hours or who's workplaces have shut down due to COVID-19 can apply for unemployment insurance. So can people who have to miss work to care for a child whose school has closed. The state recently waived the one-week waiting period to apply for unemployment insurance.
Those who have missed work to care for a sick or quarantined family member may be eligible for paid family leave through the state.
More information on unemployment insurance and paid family leave available through the state is available here.
How does this affect homeless people?
People experiencing homelessness are exempted from this order, but the order urges them to find shelter and for government agencies to provide it to them. For those who are unable to find shelter, the order recommends that they stay in encampments of fewer than 10 people.
The orders in the Bay Area do not affect the homeless population, but they are encouraged to find shelter.
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