Editor's Note: As of 11:59 p.m. on March 19, these directives are a legal order for residents to stay at their place of residence except for essential activities from the Sacramento County health department.
Updated March 19, 11:20 a.m.
In their strongest stand against the spread of the coronavirus yet, Sacramento County health officials are ordering all residents to stay home "to the maximum extent possible" except for visiting essential sites.
"This means exactly that: stay at home," Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna said on CapRadio Tuesday.
Sacramento County Health Director Dr. Peter Beilenson said the directive is in place immediately and will last indefinitely.
“This is until further notice and that will probably be months," Beilenson said. "It depends on the epidemic.”
The move comes one day after seven California counties around the Bay Area issued "shelter in place" orders that restrict residents to essential trips, such as to hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations.
The new Sacramento County directive calls on all businesses to telecommute, with only employees who can’t perform “essential duties” from home physically coming in to work.
It also says there should be no gatherings of any size, and asks that seniors 65 or older and those with chronic health conditions stay home and avoid contact with people not in their household.
"People can still engage in all the essential functions of life, like grocery shopping, essential medical appointments, and getting outdoors for a run or a walk, as long as it's at a safe distance from others," Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg tweeted. "Life will change, but there's no reason to panic."
In an interview with CapRadio, Steinberg wasn't able to say what would happen if people didn't follow the directive, but that there could be law enforcement options.
"The whole nation is dealing with this but we can be a model for how to address this with the urgency that it demands while treating each other with generosity and kindness, looking out for one another and adapting in a way that will enable us to all get through this together," Steinberg said.
The directive does say those most at risk can leave their homes to do things such as visit parks or walk the dog, as long as they practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from others.
"Although community mitigation measures can be disruptive, these recommendations are to protect the public’s health," health officials said in the release.
Essential sites are defined as:
- Health care facilities
- Grocery stores
- Hardware stores/plumbers/electricians for emergency services
- Businesses that provide food, shelter and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals
- Newspapers, television, radio and other media services
- Gas stations and auto supply, auto repair and related facilities
- Banks and related financial institutions
- Plumbers, electricians, exterminators and others who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences
- Airlines, taxis and other private transportation providers
Beilenson said the directive is needed because most people with COVID-19 have no or mild symptoms. Those people can be shedding the virus for up to 14 days even without showing any symptoms.
"There will be significantly more asymptomatic people testing positive as we get more tests," Beilenson said.
This story is developing and will be updated.
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.