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March 23, 2020 Health Officer Statement

Health Officer Updates Health Officer Statements

Please read or reread my statements below from 3/16/20, 3/10/20, 3/5/20, and 2/27/20 to get a better understanding of where we find ourselves today.

As I write this, I am both immensely grateful and exceedingly disappointed. We are in a grave crisis. I believe the virus is growing at an exponential rate in our county. Unless everyone does their part and follows the County’s Shelter-in-Place order and the Governor’s Safer at Home order, we will be facing an Italy-type catastrophe very soon. These orders are not recommendations, they are rules to be followed. My disappointment stems from the fact that many people just aren’t taking this seriously and going about their business as if nothing has changed. Our world has profoundly changed in an instant. It is now up to you all, the community, to decide what you want your future to be. If you decide you want to do your own thing and follow your own rules, you disrespect us all. You spit in our face, and you will contribute to the death toll that will follow. For those of you who say: “nobody tells me what to do,” now is a time to make an exception. You can go back to being ornery in the future.

Keeping humans apart from other humans is the only tool we currently have to slow this virus’ spread. This is a particularly fraught dilemma, as humans are social animals and they need each other, but we need to make every possible effort to avoid contact with each other.

For families in different households, do not mix your households at this time. As hard as this is, do not gather in any way outside of immediate households. As for outdoor exercise, people certainly need to get out, but do this in your own immediate neighborhoods. Do not drive except to provide or obtain an essential service. Do not go into other neighborhoods for recreation. This increases the risk of virus spread. Always maintain social distance. Wash your hands frequently and follow all the other recommended actions.

I’m grateful for the enormous amount of activity and the enormous amount of resources, from both the public and private sectors, going into protecting us and going into our healthcare system surge capacity. I am grateful that many people are taking this seriously and are doing everything they can to slow the spread of this virus. You are heroes for doing this.

I am deeply grateful for and everyone should thank God for our first responders and our front line medical and public health personnel. They are taking on personal risk to take care of you. They are heroes for doing this.

As for the supply shock, please lower your expectations of what you can get and when you can get it. Be grateful for anything that you can get. The capacity to deliver instant gratification is over.

As for the demand shock, look around and determine which small businesses you’d like to see still in your community when this is over. Then patronize them. Even if they are not open and you can’t get goods and services from them, you may want to consider paying them for services you might have received from them or they will be gone.

VOLUNTEER. Your community needs you now. There are many, many things that need to be done.  This is the link to the survey for folks that want to volunteer:

This is the email for non-profits and organizations needing volunteers:   

DONATE. There are critical shortages of supplies, especially some medical supplies. Please donate personal protective equipment (PPE). The email to donate PPE is There will be an SMCStrong fund set up shortly to support individuals, small businesses and non-profits in the County. Donate to this if you can, or to your charity of choice.

Now more than ever, what I need for you to do is fully follow my recommendations’ advice and orders, unite as a community, come to each other’s aid, and let kindness, compassion, and gratitude guide your actions.

Scott Morrow, MD, MPH
San Mateo County Health Officer
March 23, 2020