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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The San Francisco Bay Area is in waiting mode right now, hoping its first-in-the-nation adoption of shelter-in-place policies give it a shot at dodging the virus crisis' worst-case scenarios.

Yes, but: The area, which has lately struggled to deal with widening economic inequality engendered by tech industry wealth, now also faces significant county-by-county variations in coronavirus impact, with Santa Clara County hardest hit.

Driving the news: On Monday, seven Bay Area counties extended their shelter-in-place orders, first effective on March 17, from the original April 7 end date to May 1 (and possibly longer).

  • The counties ordered all nonessential activities to be curtailed, shutting down bars, dine-in restaurants, gyms and more, and telling residents to stay home except for emergencies and food shopping.
  • Sara Cody and Scott Morrow, Santa Clara County and San Mateo County’s respective public health officers, have served as the region’s own versions of Anthony Fauci, delivering regular updates and pushing elected officials to make bold moves.
  • Early signs suggest the early moves helped: The number of hospitalized cases in one of the city’s main hospitals has remained low and steady, according to daily Twitter reports from Bob Wachter, department of medicine chair at UC San Francisco.

By the numbers: As of Monday, six patients in San Francisco have died from COVID-19, with 374 total confirmed cases (though testing continues to lag, making it difficult to grasp the true level of virus spread).

The crisis has also highlighted Silicon Valley’s penchant for problem-solving.

  • A number of health care startups, including Everlywell, Carbon Health and Nurx, shifted quickly to working on developing COVID-19 testing kits.
  • Other companies are tapping into their existing supply chains and expertise, including freight management firm Flexport, which is using its supply chain expertise to work on procuring medical supplies, and fuel cell company Bloom Energy, which took on the task of repairing broken ventilators procured by the state.

The catch: It’s still unclear whether the Bay Area has truly "flattened the curve."

  • A new model from the University of Washington predicts that California's need for medical resources like hospital beds will peak around April 26.
  • While the city of San Francisco is still seeing a low and steady rate of hospitalization, nearby Santa Clara County, home to San Jose and the place where the region's first case emerged, has seen a wider spread. Santa Clara is now the county with the second highest number of cases in the state, behind Los Angeles.
  • Despite best efforts, it’s undeniable that San Francisco will permanently lose a number of beloved restaurants, bars, shops and other businesses.
  • The city also has to figure out how to help more vulnerable groups, including the homeless and those living in single-occupancy rooms with shared amenities that make it hard not to interact with strangers.

The big picture: Since 2017, the Bay Area has already dealt with a major wildfire crisis, and the threat of a massive earthquake is never far from the collective consciousness.

  • Despite that backdrop, San Francisco remains determined to show it is once again “the city that knows how,” as President Taft dubbed it after it recovered from the 1906 earthquake to host the World's Fair nine years later.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.