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Schools shut down, Bay Area under shelter in place order as coronavirus spreads

By Elizabeth Hall and Kaashika Raut

Staff Writers

Across the country, state governors are issuing various orders to protect citizens from the coronavirus; however, California Governor Gavin Newsom is taking extra measures. As of 12:01 a.m. on March 17, until 11:59 p.m. on April 7, residents of nine California counties are under the order to “shelter in place.” Local mayors were originally hesitant to order this, as it would affect millions of working parents and children. Because of the spread of the coronavirus, however, it soon became clear that a shelter in place order would be essential to help stop the infections.

Under this order, residents must stay in their homes unless they are getting medical supplies, visiting a hospital, buying groceries, and getting supplies to work from home. People can also go outside, as long as they stay six feet away from others. Members exempt from these rules are essential staff, such as people working for healthcare operations, people working on construction projects necessary for infrastructure, and anyone who is needed to continue the operation of government agencies.

The state is trying to introduce social distancing so that they can “flatten the curve.” This is a common term used by epidemiologists. They want to slow the rate of infection spread so that hospitals don’t get overrun. This method can save lives by making sure the hospitals can care for all the patients. 

Nine million people are under the order to shelter in place so far in California. This has affected many people’s jobs and income. Many small businesses are having to lay off employees to keep afloat. 

This novel coronavirus causes a respiratory disease (COVID- 19). It originated in Wuhan, China in November 2019 and is not the first outbreak of a coronavirus that stemmed from bats. Since then, it has spread to 145 countries and has been declared a pandemic. Cases range in severity, but most of the deaths were older individuals and people with underlying health issues.

As of late March 17, there have been 698 recorded cases and 12 deaths in California. Overall, California has the third-highest amount of recorded cases, behind Washington and New York. Many are in Bay Area counties, such as Santa Clara County, the epicenter of the outbreak.

As a result, almost all Bay Area schools have temporarily closed and are having students learn online. Schools have said they will return after spring break, on April 21. However, in a conference on March 17, Gov. Newsom told parents not to expect students to return to regular schooling until the summer

If you think that you have COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you stay home and monitor your symptoms. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. A majority of the cases are mild; however, if you have extreme symptoms, such as difficulty breathing and persistent pain or pressure in the chest, go see your doctor. Many of the cases are asymptomatic, meaning that it may spread faster.

So what can you do to help stop the spread? If you live in any of the nine affected counties in California, you should follow the shelter in place rules. Even at home, you should wash your hands with soap and water, avoid touching your face and avoid close contact with people who are sick. Take regular precautions and stay inside unless absolutely necessary. 

Starting on March 16, an experimental vaccine is being tested in humans for the new coronavirus. However, even if the vaccine is safe and effective, it will not be put into use for at least a year. So right now, take precautions and follow your state orders. 

“Temporarily changing our routine is absolutely necessary to slow the spread of this pandemic,” Dr. Sara Cody, a Santa Clara County public health officer, stated in a press release.  “The Health Officers from the largest jurisdictions in the San Francisco Bay Area are united and we are taking this step together to offer the best protection to our respective communities.”

See related: Students across the Bay Area feel socially isolated in quarantine

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