Marin readies to relax again in June, citing progress

05/20/2020

Marin County is well-positioned to safely relax its shelter-in-place order. Over the past month, the number of Covid-19 tests has quadrupled, while the number of positive cases has only doubled. Hospitalizations remain stable, at around four patients. The county has met its goal of 500 daily tests for most of the past week, and 80 volunteers with the new Marin Medical Reserve Corps are ready to be trained in tracing the contacts of positive patients. Hospitals, prepared for a surge for a month now, have verified that they have enough personal protective equipment for at least 30 days. “We have a lot of good news in the indicators,” Dr. Matt Willis, the public health officer, told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. The county did experience its second-highest day of positive cases on Saturday, with 18 positive tests, but Dr. Willis attributed the uptick to more frequent tests of asymptomatic people exposed to positive patients rather than to an outbreak. “In the past we may have not been actually testing those individuals, so that’s the primary explanation for the spike in cases we’ve seen,” he said. In West Marin, fewer than 10 people have tested positive for Covid-19. Despite the progress, another relaxation of the shelter order isn’t expected until June. Dr. Willis and his team are moving at a pace of relaxing the shelter order every two weeks, when the impact of the previous relaxation becomes clear. On May 4, the county revised its order to allow construction and childcare for essential workers, and on Monday, curbside retail, manufacturing and some parks were allowed to reopen. Few parks in West Marin were opened, because they are regional destinations and the towns can get overwhelmed, Marin County Parks director Max Korten said. The allowance of curbside retail is an exciting development for shop owners in Point Reyes Station. On Monday, owner Vicki Leeds rehung the horse’s head outside the Cabaline Country Emporium, and opened for business. Kim Wallach opened Susan Hayes Handwovens, too. “I’m hanging out here anyway, and who knows who will wander by,” she said. “It will be interesting to see what happens over the weekend.” As for what will be allowed in the next update, the county will follow in the footsteps of the State of California, Dr. Willis said. Governor Gavin Newsom has indicated that places of worship and hair salons could be allowed to reopen in the next few weeks. The state has moved away from allowing only essential activities to assessing activities based on their risk. “The questions for us are how—and that’s answered primarily through the Marin Recovers group—and when, and that’s going to be answered through our indicators,” Dr. Willis said. Marin Recovers is a collaborative effort to ensure that each sector is prepared to safely reopen when it is allowed. Industry working groups corresponding to 16 business sectors are meeting and developing guidelines; more than 500 people have provided input. Each day, more guidelines are posted online, and Marin Recovers released a template for businesses to develop a site-specific protection plan, a way for them to self-certify that they are ready to reopen. The idea is to use business leaders to inform decision-making around reopening, and the recovery team will present a roadmap to reopening at next week’s Board of Supervisors meeting.