UPDATE, April 3, 10:36 a.m.: Marin public health officials announced this morning that the county is now recommending the use of face coverings when leaving home for essential travel to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The move aligns with new guidance by the California Department of Public Health, and in anticipation of updated recommendations by the CDC.
Masks should cover the face and mouth to help filter droplets from coughs and sneezes. Home-sewn fabric masks, bandanas and neck gaiters are among the recommended solutions as they can be washed and worn again — though officials advise against using the types of gauze surgical masks and N95 respirators that remain in short supply globally for health-care workers.
However, state experts still assert the "best community and individual defense against COVID-19 is washing our hands frequently, avoiding touching our eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, avoiding being around sick people and physical distancing, especially by staying at home."
Increasing evidence cited by U.S. public health officials shows that as much as 25 percent of those infected with the coronavirus are asymptomatic yet contagious. A study of 9,000 patients in Iceland showed that some 50 percent of those who tested positive reported no symptoms. Further, Dr. Harry Fineberg, chair of the National Academy of Sciences’ infectious-diseases committee, told the White House last week that current research supports the possibility that the coronavirus can be aerosolized in exhalation — meaning the virus could be spread through simple talking and breathing and not just in droplets from coughs and sneezes.
While cloth and gauze surgical masks can protect against droplets, they have limited effect on aerosolized virus that can penetrate the fabric. Coverings, therefore, should supplement and not replace physical distancing practices and hygiene, especially hand-washing. The importance of hand-washing increases with mask wear due to the possibility of cross contamination, as masks should be considered contaminated with use. Residents should wash their hands before applying the covering, not touch it for the duration of wear, then wash hands again before and after removal. Used coverings should be stored in a bag or bin until they can be laundered with detergent in hot water on a hot dry cycle.
The CDC and WHO have not previously recommended mask-wearing for healthy individuals, in part due to supply shortages for commercial masks and respirators, the potential for cross-contamination, improper fitment and the potential false sense of security that could lead wearers to relax distancing and hygiene measures. Instead, the agencies currently recommend masks only for health-care professionals, those who are sick, and those who care for or share households with the sick.
UPDATE, March 31, 2:10 p.m.: Marin and six other Bay Area jurisdictions have now extended the regional shelter-in-place order through May 3. A preliminary announcement yesterday had said the order would be in effect through May 1. Officials say the regional order is a "complement" to the open-ended statewide order, which Gov. Gavin Newsom last week said could last another eight to 12 weeks — or into June. Both orders are stronger than the national sheltering guidelines, which are in effect through April 30.
The new regional order includes some clarifying language around essential activities:
Use of playgrounds, dog parks, public picnic areas and similar recreational areas is prohibited. These areas must be closed to public use.
Individuals may access parks and open-space areas that are local to their homes and are easily accessible by foot, bicycle or other non-motorized means, strictly for the purpose of engaging in exercise. Driving to access parks or open-space areas is prohibited, except for individuals with disabilities with vehicles possessing current and valid disabled-person parking placards or license plates.
Use of shared public recreational facilities such as golf courses, tennis and basketball courts, pools and rock walls is prohibited. These facilities must be closed for recreational use.
Sports requiring people to share a ball or other equipment must be limited to people in the same household.
Essential businesses are required to develop a social distancing protocol before April 3.
Most construction — residential and commercial — is prohibited.
Funerals must be limited to no more than 10 people attending.
Essential businesses expanded to include service providers that enable residential transactions (notaries, title companies, Realtors, etc.); funeral homes and cemeteries; moving companies, rental car companies and rideshare services that specifically enable essential activities.
Essential businesses that continue to operate facilities must scale down operations to their essential component only.
As of 8 p.m. March 30:
Marin Confirmed Cases: 98 (5.37% increase from yesterday)
Marin Deaths: 4
Marin Persons Tested (at point of testing site): 716
Marin Hospitalizations: 14
UPDATE, March 27, 5:31 p.m.: The Marin man who contracted COVID-19 on the Grand Princess Mexican Riviera cruise in February, becoming the county's first confirmed case, has died, officials have announced. He is the the county's first coronavirus-related death.
The man, who was in his 70s, had been hospitalized for nearly three weeks. He was experiencing flu-like symptoms on his return to San Francisco Feb. 21 and was confirmed to have COVID-19 on March 9. Within days, two others in his household also tested positive for the infection, becoming the county's first three cases.
“This is a heartbreaking development in our work to limit the impact of COVID-19 locally,” Dr. Lisa Santora, Marin’s deputy public health officer said in a press release. “This unfortunate death further shows how serious this virus is and how necessary it is for our community to continue to shelter in place and take bold measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Marin."
Marin Confirmed Cases: 68
Marin Deaths: 1
Marin Persons Tested (at point of testing site): 681
Marin Hospitalizations: 9
UPDATE, March 25, 12:53 p.m.: The Marin County Office of Education has announced that public schools will now remain closed through May 1, part of a Bay Area-wide effort to stem the spread of coronavirus.
“To maintain a consistent and coordinated response regionally, Public Health officials and school leaders have determined that extending the suspension of classroom learning is vital to the safety and well-being of our students and community,” Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke said in a press release. “This unified decision is a reflection of the importance of our mitigation efforts and to help our families plan for the longer term.”
Joining the decision are county school superintendents in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara.
Officials say any further extensions, if necessary, will be announced.
UPDATE, March 25, 10:14 a.m.: Marin County Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Lisa Santora warned the Board of Supervisors yesterday that roughly 1 percent of residents may have already been infected with coronavirus — or some 3,000 undiagnosed cases versus the 53 confirmed — due to the limited availability for tests.
Santora noted that most people have mild symptoms and some are entirely asymptotic yet highly contagious, but only those with moderate to severe symptoms are being approved for tests.
The county announced yesterday it is joining six other jurisdictions — Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara, as well as the city of Berkeley — to demand more comprehensive testing data from independent labs to better track community-outbreak trends.
Right now, labs are only posting positive results. Under the new public-health order, laboratories must also report all negative and inconclusive results, as well as all patient information that allows health officials to better locate the person tested.
“Expanding reporting beyond positive results to include timely reporting of negative and inconclusive results allows local health officials to better understand whether there are areas of the community that are experiencing more intense transmission and project future trends in in the spread of the virus,” San Francisco health officer Dr. Tomás Aragón said in a press release. “By sharing high quality test result data at scale, state and local health authorities can better track COVID-19, predict its spread, and better focus public resources to end this global pandemic.”
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UPDATE, March 25, 9:58 a.m.: While President Donald Trump says he wants the country "opened up and raring to go by Easter," or April 12, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signaled this week the state's open-ended shelter-in-place measures could last two to three months — well beyond the Bay Area order's original April 7 expiration.
Local businesses hoping to reopen April 7 should prepare for the long haul, and schools likely would not reopen under that timeframe.
"April, for California, would be sooner than any of the experts I’ve talked to believe is possible,"
Newsom said yesterday, pointing instead to an eight- to 12-week window.Newsom has also expanded orders issued in Marin and Los Angeles to shut down parking lots near beaches, parks and trails statewide after witnessing overcrowding and lax physical distancing over the weekend.
UPDATE, March 24, 6:14 p.m.: The total number of Marin cases of COVID-19 has now jumped to 53 as of today — including Marin's public-health officer, Dr. Matt Willis, who confirmed he was the county's 39th case.
Marin has also issued the details of its public-health order to shut down vehicular access to all parks and open spaces countywide after widespread reports of overcrowding in public spaces. Municipalities have been ordered "cease all public operations and services related to motor vehicles" at park facilities. Tiburon has announced that the Blackie's Pasture parking lot will be closed effective tonight. Those who can reach parks and open spaces by foot, bike or other non-motorized transportation — with exceptions for those with disabilities — may still access those areas. Those with disabilities can access the Old Rail Trail, McKegney Green and Blackie's from the Lyford Drive parking lot on Tiburon Boulevard.
Donate to the Marin Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Fund of MCF via arkn.ws/MCFCOVIDfund. The foundation partners with Marin nonprofits to direct financial support individuals and families most in need.
Donate directly to the SF-Marin Food Bank at sfmfoodbank.org.
Donate to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund via arkn.ws/WHOCOVIDfund.
For local health resources, visit coronavirus.marinhhs.org.
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UPDATED March 19, 7:14 p.m.: Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued a statewide stay-at-home order, making California the nation's first state to issue mandatory restrictions. The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday. He did not say when the order would end.
The statewide order appears to mimic the rules already in place in most of the Bay Area, including in Marin.
Essential services to remain open include:
Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants
Essential state and local government functions will also remain open, including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.
To close are:
The state had some 675 positive cases and 16 deaths as of 6 p.m. March 18, the latest confirmed data from the state's Department of Public Health, and as many as 952 cases and 18 deaths, according to preliminary reports from Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center. That's up from just 335 cases Monday.
Marin today reported its largest single-day surge of 10 new cases, putting the county total at 25. The county had entered the weekend with just three cases, all travel-related, then reported its first six community-transmission cases on Sunday, all discovered through the county's new drive-through testing service.
UPDATED March 17, 4:47 p.m.: Tiburon Town Hall and Belvedere City Hall have shut down to the public.
Tiburon says it will not be accepting new planning and building applications, and it will not be issuing new permits or conducting building inspections for existing permits. The Department of Public Works will not be accepting new applications or issuing new encroachment permits.
The town's main phone line is not being monitored. Residents may use this form for general questions.
Tiburon police will continue to respond to incidents involving risk or threats to life and personal safety, but they will attempt to handle non-violent crime via telephone and email as much as possible. Public access to the Police Department will be limited. The non-emergency line, 415-789-2801, is still being operated.
Belvedere says the city will suspend permitting except for encroachment and road closure permits, which may be obtained by filling out a form and emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Building inspections have been suspended. City Hall will be closed, except for appointments. To schedule, here's the list of department heads.
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UPDATED March 16, 3:33 p.m.: Public health officers across six Bay Area counties, including Marin, united to issue a three-week regional shelter-in-place warning beginning March 17 to mitigate the potential spread of coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19.
The order came as Tiburon and Belvedere separately declared states of emergency and as Marin health officials announced the county’s first six confirmed cases of community-transmitted coronavirus infections, bringing the overall total to nine.
Schools and county-operated public parks had closed in the days ahead of the announcement.
According to Marin public information officer Laine Hendricks, the Bay Area order limits activity, travel and business functions to only the most essential needs. Dr. Matt Willis, the county’s public health officer, noted the order is not a complete shutdown.
“While the goal is to limit groups congregating together in a way that could further spread the virus … you can still complete your most essential outings or even engage in outdoor activity, so long as you avoid close contact,” he said.
The order, which also applies to San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Contra Costa and Alameda counties, impacts a population of more than 6.7 million people. Sonoma, Solano and Napa counties were not included at The Ark’s press time.
“Scientific evidence shows social distancing is one of the most effective approaches to slow the transmission of communicable disease,” Hendricks said. “The shelter-at-home order follows new data of increasing local transmission of COVID-19, including 258 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with four deaths shared by the seven jurisdictions, as of March 15. The Bay Area’s collected confirmed cases is more than half of California’s case count. This does not account for the rapidly increasing number of assumed cases of community transmission.”
The order is short of the type of lockdown seen in Italy and elsewhere, in which residents are not allowed to leave their homes without explicit permission or faces fines. However, it calls for law enforcement to “ensure compliance” — though it was unclear at press time to what degree it would be enforced.
Essential businesses allowed to operate include “health-care operations; businesses that provide food, shelter, social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals; fresh and non-perishable food retailers including convenience stores; pharmacies; child-care facilities; gas stations; banks; (and) laundry businesses and services necessary for maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of a residence,” the order states. “In addition, health care, law and safety and essential government functions will continue under the recommended action.”
UPDATED March 15, 10:46 a.m.: The Marin health department has confirmed the county's first two community-transmission cases of COVID-19. “The first cases of community transmission of COVID-19 in Marin means we’re in a new stage of working to mitigate spread,” public health officer Dr. Matt Willis said in a press release. “We’ve been anticipating this. This is why we took big steps this week, including limiting large gatherings and closing classrooms.” Officials say neither patient has been hospitalized, but that they're quarantining at home. The cases were found through the county's new drive-through testing service.
UPDATED March 13, 12:38 p.m.: Library Director Debbie Mazzolini has confirmed that the Belvedere-Tiburon Library, which is closed today for inventory, will not reopen due to concerns about the potential spread of coronavirus. She says the library is tentatively closed through March 30 but that officials will re-evaluate as the situation unfolds.
UPDATED March 13, 8:37 a.m.: The Reed Union School District and Tamalpais Union High School District announced last evening that schools will be closed through March 30. The Tam district, which includes Redwood and Tamalpais high schools, is open temporarily today for students to retrieve instructional materials, while the Reed district's three campuses are holding a minimum day today to instruct students on the distance-learning program.
UPDATED March 12, 10:48 a.m.: Marin HHS has confirmed two additional travel-related cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to three confirmed cases. The two new patients lived with the Marin resident who previously tested positive after traveling on the Grand Princess cruise between San Francisco and Mexico. Testing for two other household members is pending. There are still no confirmed community-transmission cases in Marin.
Marin has also opened its drive-through testing service, in which patients suspected of being infected do not have to get out of their vehicles. Individuals must be referred by physicians.
UPDATED March 11, 12:58 p.m.: The Archdiocese of San Francisco has ordered the temporary closure of all Bay Area Catholic schools, including St. Hilary Catholic School in Tiburon, which will be closed March 12-25. The church, on the same grounds, is also canceling all its social events until further notice, including Wednesday Soup Suppers, the monthly Senior Luncheon and the annual St. Patrick's Feast.
Earlier today, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, with more than 124,000 cases and more than 4,500 deaths in some 122 countries and regions worldwide, according to statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University on its dedicated Coronavirus Research Center website. There are some 1,110 cases and 30 deaths in the U.S.
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UPDATED March 10, 4:10 p.m.: Several upcoming Tiburon Peninsula events have been canceled or postponed over concerns about coronavirus.
POP-UP 94920: The Belvedere-Tiburon Library Foundation announced March 10 that its Pop-Up 94920 fundraiser, originally scheduled for March 26 at Congregation Kol Shofar in Tiburon, has been postponed. "Out of an abundance of caution for the health and well-being of our community, the Library Foundation has decided to postpone Pop Up 94920 until further notice. We regret the postponement, but given the current health concerns regarding COVID-19, we believe this is the right decision at this time," foundation staff said in email to The Ark. "(We) apologize for any inconvenience and will schedule the new date for Pop Up 94920 as soon as it is safe to do so."
SEMINARY MEETING: The Strawberry Design Review Board has canceled its March 16 meeting, at which it was to review revised plans for the former seminary site in Strawberry. The proposal will instead be reviewed at a future meeting, but no date has been set.
SCHOOL MUSICAL: Bel Aire Elementary School will not host a live audience for its production of "Peter Pan Jr," which was set to be performed at the school March 11-15. In a March 9 email, district Superintendent Nancy Lynch said the school will provide all ticket holders with video of the school’s first two performances March 11-12.
FOUNDATION FOR REED SCHOOLS: The Foundation for Reed Schools has postponed ticket sales for its annual spring fundraising events — its May 1 fashion show and May 2 gala — due to "potential public health concerns," according to a March 10 email. The tickets for the events — the foundation's biggest fundraisers of the year — were set to go on sale March 18. According to the email, the foundation will continue to assess the risks of the "rapidly evolving situation" before initiating tickets sales.
MULTI-UNIT HOUSING MEETING: The county's Objective Design and Development Standards team has canceled all its community meetings, set for March 11 (San Anselmo), March 17 (Novato), March 18 (San Rafael) and March 19 (Corte Madera). Instead, there will be a live community webinar on the project objectives, with the ability to ask questions, from 7 to 9 p.m. March 19. The video will then be posted as a resource. To join the webinar, visit bit.ly/Marin-ODDS-Community-Webinar, register using the form, then follow in the instructions in the email confirmation. For more information, visit bit.ly/Marin-ODDS.
UPDATED March 9, 6:33 p.m.: Public officials have announced that the first Marin resident has tested positive for the illness — through travel-related infection. The patient, described as an older man, was among the 56 Marin residents exposed to the virus while on a Princess cruise between San Francisco and Mexico Feb. 11-21. A second Marin resident experiencing respiratory issues has also been hospitalized and tested, but the results are pending. Overall, 14 symptomatic Marin residents have been tested at area hospitals, with the one positive result, four negative results, eight results pending and one under investigation. There are still no confirmed community-transmitted cases of COVID-19 in Marin County or among Marin residents.
In a separate press release, the county health department is recommending the cancellation of all nonessential indoor events of greater than 100 people. In a previously release, the officials recommended those aged 65 and older, or with compromised immune systems, avoid gatherings of more than 100 people.
Over the weekend, officials also announced that testing capacity was to increase significantly this week, with the county planning a “one stop” testing facility on a referral basis from any county clinician. Two commercial labs announced they have the capacity to begin testing, while testing remains available at the California Department of Public Health and CDC labs.
The county has also set up dedicated non-medical coronavirus help lines at 415-473-7191, staffed weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., and at COVIDemail@example.com.
UPDATED March 9, 6 p.m.: The Marin County Office of Education's coronavirus community meeting, featuring a panel discussion with members of the Marin County Department of Health & Human Services and of Kaiser Permanente, is live now at arkn.ws/COVIDforum.
UPDATED March 6, 11:23 a.m.: The Marin Independent Journal is reporting that some 50 Marin residents may have been exposed to coronavirus aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship that traveled between San Francisco and Mexico Feb. 11-21. One Placer County man died of COVID-19 after returning from the trip, becoming California's first death; a second Sonoma County passenger has tested positive. Two Marin residents on the cruise have now been hospitalized after displaying respiratory symptoms. They have been tested, but the results have not been returned.
Several dozen people on the S.F.-Mexico cruise stayed aboard when the ship took its next cruise, to Hawaii. That ship, which has already visited the Hawaiian islands, was to head to Ensenada as its next stop, but has been rerouted back to San Francisco, where it is idling off the coast. Some 35 people aboard have exhibited flu-like symptoms, and helicopters delivered testing kits out at sea. Results from those tests also have not been completed.
UPDATED March 5, 10:14 a.m.: The San Francisco Chronicle has dropped its paywall for Bay Area coronavirus tracking and resources. Here's a great launching point.
UPDATED March 4, 4:45 p.m.: Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency, which allows California to make additional resources available, formalize emergency actions already underway and help the state prepare for the spread of COVID-19.
UPDATED March 4, 12:37 p.m.: California has reported its first COVID-19-related death, an elderly Placer County resident with underlying health conditions who had tested positive after returning from a cruise to Mexico last month. Placer County health officials say the person's exposure likely occurred on a Feb. 10-21 Princess cruise between San Francisco and Mexico.
UPDATED March 4, 12:33 p.m.: In a March 3 release to Marin schools, Public Health Officer Matthew Willis says there is no current recommendation to cancel school gatherings or field trips in Marin — though, with spring recess coming April 6-10, "students and others returning from areas with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 may have limitations on activities, depending on the CDC recommendations at that time."
UPDATED March 4, 12:30 p.m.: The Marin Independent Journal reports that two Marin residents have been admitted to local hospitals with respiratory symptoms consistent with COVID-19, according to Marin Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis. Results are expected about Friday, Willis told the IJ, so there remain no confirmed cases of coronavirus among Marin residents.
POSTED March 3, 3:02 p.m.: While there are no cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus among Marin residents, the county's Department of Health and Human Services issued a local health-emergency proclamation today, March 3, and is recommending the county Board of Supervisors ratify it at its next meeting, March 10.
“This declaration is about preparedness,” Dr. Matt Willis, the county's public health officer, said in a statement. “Our COVID-19 preparation is bringing together partners from across the community, in public health, first responders, our hospitals and health care workers, our schools and businesses. As we allocate more resources to protect residents, this will help ensure we have the support we need.”
Supervisors will also consider a local state-of-emergency proclamation that would make the county eligible to receive reimbursements for costs.
San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda, Solano and Sonoma counties have also taken actions to declare local emergencies.
Meanwhile, the Marin County Office of Education, at 1111 Las Gallinas Ave. in San Rafael, is hosting a community information forum on COVID-19 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. March 9. The talk will include experts from the Marin Department of Health and Human Services and from Kaiser Permanente. It will also be streamed live on Facebook via arkn.ws/COVIDforum; the event page is active now, with the ability to set a Facebook reminder.
The best way to reduce the risk of becoming infected with a respiratory virus, whether the flu or COVID-19, is to practice good hygiene:
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing;
• Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available;
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or crook of your elbow (not your hands). If you use a tissue, throw it away and wash your hands afterward;
• Avoid touching your face;
• Stay home from work or school if you have a fever or are feeling sick;
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe;
• Get your flu shot to protect against flu.
Local COVID-19 updates can be found on the Marin HHS COVID-19 webpage, and information about global COVID-19 activity can be found on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.