Contra Costa County ordered to shelter in place due to COVID-19

Photo by Tony Kukulich

A message of encouragement appears on the marquee of the CineLux Delta Cinema Saver theater in Brentwood, Calif., March 17, 2020. The theater closed after Contra Costa County Health Services issued a mandatory shelter-in-place order that closed all but essential businesses in the county.

Contra Costa County was among six counties mandated to shelter in place this week in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

In a press conference held Monday, March 16, health officers from Contra Costa, Alameda, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties issued the health order for residents within the region to remain in their homes for a three-week period beginning St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. 

“I want to thank our federal partners and state partners, our firefighters, our elected officials, our municipal partners, our nonprofit partners,” said Dr. Ori Tzvieli, acting health officer for Contra Costa County. “This is a time where we as a community all have to come together and all of us have to work together to get through it. We know this is not the normal way of doing business; it’s going to take some sacrifice on all of our parts, but we’re doing this for all of the right reasons. We’re doing this to help prevent unnecessary death.”

As of March 15, there were 273 cases of COVID-19 across the jurisdictions, with Santa Clara County being the epicenter for the Bay Area’s outbreak of the disease, which is spreading rapidly.

“Shelter in place” means people may only leave their residences for essential activities and government functions. Unless a business is deemed essential, it must also shutter its doors during this time. Essential businesses include those that provide medical, food, utilities, media information, financial services, among others. Review the county’s health order, section 10, F, for a complete list of exempt businesses at 

Those who fail to comply with the order run the risk of being charged with a misdemeanor with possible fines or jail time. The intent of the order is to ensure the maximum number of people self-isolate in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, thus reducing possible deaths and relieving the strain on medical facilities and staff.

Individuals must maintain a social distance of six feet when outside their homes or when using public transit, which will remain open to support those who must perform essential roles, such as those pertaining to law enforcement or health care.

“We recognize that there is a lot of fear that has driven consumer behavior that is not helpful,” said City of San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo during the press conference. “We want to assure everyone that all the food delivery systems that we rely on every day, and have relied on for decades, are going to continue to be in place. No one should fear that they need to buy everything on the aisle; there’s going to be food.” 

This measure of ensuring food deliveries is applied to all counties, as California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order March 17, easing restrictions on commercial drivers engaged in support of emergency relief efforts. To read the full order, visit

With press releases from Newsom’s office issued nearly round the clock, East County adjusts with the rapid developments as the situation continues to unfold. Here’s what’s happening at local, county and state levels:



During a brief emergency meeting held Tuesday evening, the City of Oakley City Council unanimously approved a resolution declaring a state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Tonight’s special meeting has been called to allow the council to vote on a resolution declaring the existence of an emergency to public health and safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor Kevin Romick, reading from a prepared statement. “The city is following the lead of the federal, state and county governments in this action.”

While city operations are reduced, residents were encouraged to continue to report serious or essential issues, either by phone at 925-625-7000 or email at

“Governments do not go out of business,” Romick said. “Having said that, given the policy set forth yesterday by public health officials from Contra Costa and five other Bay Area counties directing all business and governmental agencies to cease all nonessential operations at physical locations in the county. Oakley City Hall will be closed, but city business will not stop.”


Only the essential services that ensure public safety will remain open, while public access to city offices is closed.

“We feel for everyone dealing with this chaos and uncertainty,” said Brentwood City Manager Tim Ogden. “These are trying times for sure. I hope the health order to shelter at home where possible is followed strictly, so we can start getting back to normal soon.”  

Discovery Bay

In a letter to Discovery Bay residents, General Manager Mike Davies said, “First and foremost, the district will continue to provide uninterrupted water and wastewater services to our residents. Office personnel will be on-duty during normal business hours; however, walk-in service is discouraged.”


“One of the things challenging all of us right now is that information is constantly changing,” said Contra Costa County District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis. “What I can tell you is that we have truly exceptional staff at Contra Costa Health Services and throughout our county working extremely hard right now to keep pace with the science and to keep everyone safe and healthy. Our frontline first responders and health care workers, as always, deserve a special place in all of our hearts for the courage, determination and work ethic they exhibit daily. My statement to all of you is very simple: Be kind. Be calm. Look out for each other. In the times ahead you will see news that is distressing, but you’ll also see a community around you that is resilient, compassionate and prepared to act when called upon.”

The county features a running toll of those infected with COVID-19 at As of March 18, the total number of cases was at 41 and the number of reported deaths was 0. These numbers will be updated each day by 1 p.m. To watch the latest video update aired after the shelter-in-place announcement, visit


Newsom’s recent press releases can be found at A snapshot of recent reports is as follows:

March 17 – California education and health officials released new guidance for K-12 schools to help education leaders meet the needs of all students. For more information, visit

March 17 – Newsom signs executive order to ease restrictions on commercial drivers. To read the full order, visit

March 17 – Newsom announces that he has placed the California National Guard on alert. 

March 17 – Newsom signs emergency legislation providing up to $1 billion in funding to help California fight COVID-19.

March 16 – Newsom halts evictions for renters and homeowners and protects against utility shutoffs. To read the full order, visit