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Coronavirus and COVID-19 Information: Santa Clara County and Bay Area, California

Trustworthy information about COVID-19

How Long will California have to Shelter in Place?

We don't know.

Recently California issued a statewide list of what businesses and activities are allowed in its counties, depending on a standard set of metrics. Counties will be allowed to move to a new stage of operations when those indicators are doing well, but if those metrics go up, that county will need to close down the higher level for at least 3 weeks, and until its indicators improve, As of this writing, nearly all counties in the state are classified at the most restrictive level ("widespread"), 

  For more county-level details including what businesses can operate / what types of activities are allowed, see:


PlaneTree Health Library's  webpages will be updated regularly (in some cases, daily) with the latest accurate, verifiable, news you can use during this pandemic.

Bay Area Closures and Restrictions Currently in Place

Current requirements for the Bay Area counties:

Shelter-in-place is still in effect, which means that we are (still!) ordered to stay home, except for the activities that have been specifically  permitted. Anyone at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and people who are sick are strongly urged to self-quarantine and stay home (to the extent possible) except to seek medical care if needed.

Here is a summary of the most recent Orders for Santa Clara County:

Businesses that are allowed to open must make sure that employees and customers are protected and maintain social distance. They must display their plans for doing this, in a way that is visible to both employees and customers. (See the webpage for Advice for Employers in this guide.) Workers in businesses that are not yet allowed to be open to the public are strongly encouraged to work from home when possible.

We must wear a non-medical face mask or some kind of covering over both nose and mouth whenever we are outside the homes and might be within 6 feet of anyone else.

Public or private gatherings are limited. Effective July 13, Santa Clara County allows smaller groups of people to come together indoor (up to 20) or outdoor (up to 60) but only if they follow the official restrictions on gatherings. Outdoor dining in restaurants is allowed if properly distanced. San Mateo County allows indoor places of worship to be open under size and distancing restrictions. 

Some outdoor recreation activities are permitted, so long as people maintain distances of at least 6 feet away from others, cover their nose and mouth with a mask or covering, and do not share equipment. Gatherings of people in their cars (like a car parade or drive-in theater) are permitted so long as everyone remains in their vehicles. (California State still considers concerts, conferences, sporting events, gyms, and theaters as "gatherings" that should be closed.)

For an up-to-date list of what businesses can be open, search  the Blueprint for a Safer Economy website.

Children in stable groups of no more than 12 may be in childcare (or participate in summer programs) as of June 5, 2020. For more details, scroll down to section 15 f. xxvi. of that Order

California has announced detailed safety requirements, tied to local metrics for COVID-19, that must be followed for any school or university to be able to resume in-person education. Because it's unclear what the county case loads and infection rates may be in the months ahead, many school administrations have opted for online education instead for fall 2020.

Schools and Child Care

Most schools in the Bay Area are teaching online-only for this fall, but under certain circumstances, childcare, day care, camps and small-groups of children are allowed to be open or operate when allowed by the county's public health department. 

 In August & September 2020, California State released guidance for those situations on how to operate:

  • childcare settings
  • cohorts or groups of children or teens
  • day camps, and
  • higher education (colleges & universities).

  For FAQs and updated details on that guidance, see:

Schools in other parts of the country that have opened for the fall term (sometimes only briefly) have found that children are just as vulnerable as adults to catching and spreading COVID-19, even though they may not show symptoms.

Other Issues / Agencies During this Pandemic

Power :

PG&E stated on March 13 that "PG&E will not disconnect any customer's power for nonpayment during this health crisis." Their CARE program to reduce bills for customers facing economic hardships may also apply (check their website to see if qualify). 


On April 2, 2020 Governor Newsom's executive order that protects water services in homes and businesses from being shut off for nonpayment, during emergency responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The CDC's report answers questions about the safety of drinking water during the pandemic.


Sewage, Waste Disposal:

Weekly trash pickup will continue on schedule, although specially-scheduled events (like large item pickup, or electronics recycling) may be cancelled.

To avoid clogs, backups, and other problems with septic tanks, do not flush anything except toilet paper. (Why? so-called "disposable" wipes, paper towels, feminine sanitation products, etc. often contain plastic fibers or other materials that do not dissolve, causing blockages in sewer lines  and build-up in septic tanks.)


About PlaneTree Health Library

PlaneTree Health Library's mission is to guide the public to trustworthy, accurate, and free health and medical information. In operation since 1989, it is a free, public, patient and consumer health library and  501(c)3 nonprofit organization. It does not take advertisements; recommendations are independent of any commercial relationship.

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The text on this page is copyright PlaneTree Health Library, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-SA. Linked contents are the responsibility of their creators / copyright holders.