By Julia Ingram
Residents of Santa Clara County have been ordered to stay in their homes and away from others for the next three weeks, starting at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, as part of a region-wide order spanning six Bay Area counties that aims to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The order allows non-residents to travel home outside the Bay Area, and Stanford urged those with plans to leave to do so as soon as possible. The University told students on Friday that, if they were not approved to stay through spring break and spring quarter, they must leave by Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Employees who can do their work from home should do so, a letter from Provost Persis Drell reads. Because Stanford is classified as an “essential business” by the order “for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions,” those who work in health care, student dining, custodial and police operations may continue to report to work, Drell’s letter says.
Stanford told faculty that they must extend deadlines on final exams for both undergraduate and graduate students, a development from the University’s Friday announcement that finals should be made optional for undergraduates. In addition, students who conduct laboratory research were directed not to go into the lab unless their work requires regular attention to maintain the lab’s viability, such as liquid nitrogen tank filling or animal support.
The University will “continue to analyze” the impacts of the order, and “provide more detailed information as it becomes available,” Drell wrote.
The “shelter in place,” an order just below a lockdown, is used to urge residents to stay inside but does not forbid them from leaving their homes. It also urges residents to stay six feet away from others when leaving their residences. It is not clear how the order will be enforced.
Essential businesses, including health services, pharmacies and grocery stores, will remain open, county leaders announced. Mass transit will also continue to operate, though people must practice social distancing when traveling.
Santa Clara County has been at the epicenter of California’s outbreak, with four of the state’s eight deaths and 114 of its 335 cases happening within the county. As of 5 p.m. on Sunday, there were more than 200 cases across the six counties, county leaders said during Monday’s announcement.
The order comes one day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom asked bars and other nightlife to close and for senior citizens to self-isolate. The order will impact Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda counties, which altogether include more than 6.7 million people.
This article has been updated to reflect announcements Stanford made on Monday in response to the “shelter in place” order.
This article has also been updated to reflect that two more deaths from COVID-19 in Santa Clara County were announced after publication of the article.