The rumor that won’t die — shelter in place

Bay Area counties are doing it; Walsh says it’s coming

This story was updated Tuesday afternoon to include the governor’s latest denial and news that New York’s mayor is considering a shelter-in-place order.

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER ON SUNDAY denied he was preparing to issue a 14-day shelter-in-place order, calling it “wild speculation.” On Monday, he dismissed the idea again, although he said he would review President Trump’s guidance for limiting gatherings to groups of no more than 10 people (15 less than what Baker has ordered). And on Tuesday afternoon he took another stab at putting the rumor to rest.

“Let me be clear,” he told reporters at the State House. “We are not planning any shelter-in-place orders. In times of crisis, it’s imperative that everyone get their news from legitimate places. Sometimes that’s not your friend’s friend’s friend’s friend’s neighbor.”

On Monday, he spoke more broadly. “The larger point here, whether you’re talking 10 or 25, the big message to take from this is that nonessential gatherings of any significant size, given the contagious nature of this virus, are simply a bad idea,” the governor said.

Monday night, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that sheltering in place was not out of the question.  “I think here in Boston, really, we’re working with the state, with our governor as far as potentially sheltering in place,” Walsh said. “I think it’s complicated in this scenario yet to have one city do it and not the rest of us do it. And I think that at some point, potentially, we’re headed that way. But right now, we’re asking people to be very cognizant of distancing from each other.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday that he would make a decision on a shelter-in-place order within the next 48 hours.

Six San Francisco-area counties and Santa Cruz county outside the Bay Area adopted shelter-in-place orders effective Tuesday, the first such orders in the continental United States. The orders require the roughly 7 million people in those counties to stay in their homes and away from other people as much as possible over the next three weeks.

“My fellow San Franciscans, what we are asking for everyone to do is to remain at home for all but the most essential outings for your safety and the safety of those around you,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said.

Officials said limiting large gatherings, shuttering businesses, and closing schools had failed to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the San Francisco area. The Bay Area has reported nearly 300 cases since the outbreak began, but more than half of those cases were in the past four days. Health experts say the lack of testing suggests the number of cases will keep rising.

Public health officials decided even more aggressive action was needed, so they banned nonessential gatherings of any size as well as nonessential travel (even on foot bicycle, or scooters).

Residents are still allowed to travel to obtain food, medicine, and health care. And airports, taxis, and public transit will continue to operate, for essential travel only. The shelter-in-place order will be enforced by local police, with violations a misdemeanor. San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said his department would be “looking for voluntary compliance.”