Coronavirus California: San Mateo Co. anticipates it'll make state's watch list Tuesday

SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- As of Monday, San Mateo County remains the only one in the Bay Area, off the state's coronavirus watch list.

However, county leaders aren't getting comfortable. Instead, they're bracing for potential restrictions as early as Tuesday.

Looking at the numbers, the county reports its case rate of 110.4 cases per 100,000 people as of Friday, may exceed the state's benchmark of 100 per 100,000 residents.

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The Bay Area's average rate of cases is roughly 124 per 100,000.

More than 100 cases over three consecutive days- that's California's recipe for rollbacks during the pandemic. It's a move county leaders say is likely to be announced on Tuesday.

"We're at the edge of the diving board, and it looks like we're going to join all those other counties," Supervisor David Canepa told ABC7 News. "Our numbers seem to be trending, especially around cases, in the wrong direction."

In a statement by the county's Public Health Officer, Dr. Scott Morrow wrote, "Why is the virus spreading here at its current higher level now? I don't know exactly, but it appears to me that there are 3 major factors."

He continued, "In order to understand what's going on completely with transmission risks, we don't have the resources to do case-control studies. We don't have the wherewithal to do case-control studies given the enormous burden on all the staff at the health department at this time, but we can take some educated guesses based on patterns that we are seeing here."

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The virus appears remarkably, even surprisingly, transmissible.

Fundamental structural failures of the US economy are being laid bare by the pandemic.

Complacency is the other majority factor enabling spread.

His statement, released Monday continued, "Your seemingly innocuous get togethers are driving the spread and are a major reason why you can't go to a restaurant, why you can't go to the gym, why you can't go get your hair cut, why kids can't go to school."

"We're preparing for it," ReDeeFit co-owner, Remie Aranda said about the anticipated rollbacks. "I believe that if we do get shut down, our best options are to go outdoors."

She and co-owner Danny Lee said when they returned to work weeks ago, they understood future closures weren't out of the question.

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Because of the uncertainty, they took an overly cautious approach- constantly sanitizing, social distancing, and developing an extensive safety plan.

"It gives us room for situations like this," Lee explained. "Where we can pivot and shift our operations."

However, any shift outdoors isn't going to be easy for everyone.

"I call it Shelter In Place 2.0," Supervisor Canepa explained. "We're not in a full shelter-in-place, but we're taking a step back in this resiliency map that the governor has laid out."

In Daly City, Black and Gold Barber Lounge owner, Derrick Pecson said mall businesses are, in a sense, powerless during the pandemic.

"If we have to shut down again, then, you know, I mean we're going to have to," he said. "There's really nothing that we can do."

Still, he's willing to take another cut if it means keeping his community safe.

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"I mean, at the end of it, the landscape of San Mateo County is small businesses and we got to do our part," Pecson told ABC7 News. "I feel like if we're not doing our part, then it slows everything else down and everybody else down."

His colleague, J.J. Tupas that explained his nearby shop, Cut to Contrast, shuttered early under San Francisco County orders. Although other sectors continued under modified operations.

Tupas is now cutting hair with Pecson, hoping the same doesn't happen in San Mateo County.

"If they're going to shut the whole county down, then you have to shut everything down," Tupas told ABC7 News.

Pecson described how business has been impacted since returning to work several weeks ago.

"We are taking anywhere from eight to ten haircuts a day now," down from 15 to 25 cuts in one day, he explained. "That's a big cut from what we're doing. But you know, some money is better than no money."

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Taking safety into consideration, Pecson explained, "There were some clients that we couldn't take in from different counties just because- I didn't want to be like that- but at the end of it, it was just to keep my myself and my barbers safe."

Separately, Pecson and Aranda said they credit small business owners across the county for listening and adhere to health orders. Both added, attention to detail is what kept the county off California's state watch list for so long.

Pecson said, "Not defying orders. Just pretty much doing what we're told. Wearing face masks, number one. Sanitizing, just listening. Not really going against the grain."

"We've been listening! We've been listening. I tell all my patients- I work for a dental office- and I tell all my patients, San Francisco County and San Mateo County are the two places that have been wearing their mask and taking the protocol very seriously," Aranda said.

"We should take a little bit of pleasure, but you can never be satisfied. This virus knows no county boundaries," Canepa explained, Monday. "I'd be very surprised tomorrow, if we weren't on the watch list."

To end Dr. Morrow's statement on Monday, he said, "To get out of this situation depends on all of us. Our collective best course of action: No gatherings outside of immediate households, use facial coverings extensively, and social distancing."

To read the full statement, click here.

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