Story at a glance
- Public health officials have recommended social distancing and self-isolating measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
- California was the first state to issue a statewide stay-at-home order after counties had issued their own.
- Now, early numbers show decreasing numbers of new cases of COVID-19 in the Bay Area.
In January, most Americans had never heard the phrases “social distancing” or “flatten the curve.” Two months later, millions of people in the United States are under stay at home orders, some indefinitely. Will it work?
Early numbers from the Bay Area of California, one of the first parts of the country to enforce preventative stay-at-home orders, suggest it might be working already. San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda counties ordered residents to stay home on March 16, followed by a statewide order three days later.
After 14 days — the window for symptoms to appear post-infection — Politico reports doctors at Bay Area hospitals are reporting fewer cases than they expected to see at this point, easing the burden on emergency rooms and health care services.
"We believe very strongly the stay-at-home order has helped advance our efforts in reducing the stress on the system that we believe would have already materialized in more acute ways had we not advanced those protocols when we did," California Governor Gavin Newsom said at a press conference.
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As of March 31, there are a total of 434 confirmed cases in San Francisco, with a death toll of seven, according to Johns Hopkins University. Of the six counties, Santa Clara County, the state's epicenter, has reported 890 cases of COVID-19 with 30 deaths, while eight other counties in the Bay Area reported 1,352 cases and 24 deaths total.
And while public health officials are still predicting a second surge of cases, Kaiser Permanente told Politico that cases in northern California have leveled off.
"While we still predict an upcoming surge, the partnership between the health system and public health officials on the local and state levels to implement social distancing has given us more time to put a lot of pieces in place to prepare for a potential surge," Stephen Parodi, a infectious disease doctor and associate executive director with The Permanente Medical Group, told Politico in a statement.
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