California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced a new stay-at-home order in parts of the state where hospitals have less than 15 percent ICU capacity
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced a new stay-at-home order for regions where fewer than 15 percent of intensive care unit beds are available.
The new order divides the state into five regions – none of which currently meet the threshold for the new restrictions.
However Newsom said four out of five regions – Greater Sacramento, Northern California, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California – are on track to hit that threshold within a few days and the fifth – the Bay Area – is expected to meet it by the middle of the month.
When they do surpass 85 percent capacity, the state will order affected regions to close hair salons and barber shops, limit retail stores to 20 percent capacity and only allow restaurants to offer take-out and delivery for at least three weeks.
Northern California has 15 percent of its ICU beds available, San Joaquin Valley has 22 percent, Greater Sacramento has 24 percent, Southern California has 26 percent and the Bay Area has 28 percent.
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The new order divides the state into five regions – none of which currently meet the threshold for the new restrictions. However Newsom said four out of five regions – Greater Sacramento, Northern California, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California – are on track to hit that threshold within a few days and the fifth – the Bay Area – is expected to meet it by mid-month
The announcement comes after California broke its record for daily new cases on Wednesday with more than 20,000, bringing the state’s total to 1,264,539 with 19,437 deaths.
A record 9,702 people are currently hospitalized, including 2,147 in the intensive care unit, leaving the state with fewer than 1,800 available ICU beds.
Newsom’s new lockdown rules
California’s latest lockdown order will go into effect in regions that drop below 15 percent available ICU bed capacity, with restrictions lasting for three weeks.
– Limit mixing with other households as much as possible
– Retail held to 20 percent capacity
– Restaurants limited to takeout and delivery
– Full closure of: Playgrounds; indoor recreational facilities; hair salons and barbershops; personal care services; museums, zoos, and aquariums; movie theaters; wineries, bars, breweries, and distilleries; family entertainment centers; cardrooms and satellite wagering; live audience sports; amusement parks
Travel for essential services such as medical care and groceries
Distanced outdoor activity such as hiking
Schools already holding in-person classes
Outdoor religious services
Offices where remote work is not possible
‘The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,’ Newsom said while announcing the order, which he called ‘Pulling an Emergency brake’, at a video press conference.
Infections have exploded in recent weeks to the point that the state is averaging 15,000 new cases a day and the positivity rate has more than doubled, reaching seven percent in the two-week period ended Wednesday.
Newsom, who is quarantining at home after three of his children were exposed to the virus, warned earlier this week that he would take ‘drastic action’ if the numbers didn’t improve.
Public health officials have said the current figures don’t include the COVID-19 infections expected to arise from Thanksgiving holiday travel and gatherings.
Those cases probably will start showing up in hospitals around Christmas, experts say.
During Thursday’s press conference Newsom emphasized the state’s recent surge in coronavirus deaths – noting there were two consecutive days this week with a record 113 fatalities.
A month ago the state was reporting an average of less than 20 deaths per day.
Under the new order, regions that hit the 15 percent ICU capacity threshold will have two days to comply with restrictions, Newsom said.
Residents of those areas will be required to stay home as much as possible, with a blanket ban on nonessential gatherings, but they will be allowed to continue essential activities including seeking medical care and buying groceries.
The order also allows outdoor religious ceremonies and distanced outdoor exercise such as hiking.
It does not affect schools that have already reopened for in-person classes.
Retail businesses will be limited to 20 percent capacity while all playgrounds, salons and barbershops, museums, movie theaters, wineries, bars, casinos and amusement parks must close entirely.
‘We are at a tipping point in our fight against the virus and we need to take decisive action now to prevent California’s hospital system from being overwhelmed in the coming weeks,’ Newsom said.
‘I’m clear-eyed that this is hard on all of us – especially our small businesses who are struggling to get by.’
Newsom’s latest order mirrors the one he imposed at the start of the pandemic in March, except that it is broken down by region rather than statewide.
California broke its record for daily new cases on Wednesday with more than 20,000, bringing the state’s total to 1,264,539 with 19,437 deaths
Newsom ramped up restrictions a week before Thanksgiving, imposing a nighttime curfew on nonessential gatherings and business in counties that are in the strictest purple tier of the state’s color-coded system for reopening the economy. Fifty-one of the state’s 58 counties are currently in that tier, comprising more than 99 percent of the population
Percentage of available ICU units by region
Bay Area: 28%
Greater Sacramento: 24%
Northern California: 15%
San Joaquin Valley: 22%
Southern California: 26%
The governor and members of his office acknowledged that it won’t be easy for Californians to go back into isolation, but said locking down will give the state its best chance of curbing the spread of the virus.
‘We know what a struggle this pandemic has been for so many California families, but our actions have saved countless lives,’ Dr Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services Secretary, said in a written statement.
‘This targeted action will preserve vital ICU beds for people who need them – whether they’re COVID-19 patients or someone who has suffered a heart attack or a stroke.’
Newsom already ramped up restrictions a week before Thanksgiving, imposing a nighttime curfew on nonessential gatherings and business in counties that are in the purple tier of the state’s color-coded system for reopening the economy.
Fifty-one of the state’s 58 counties are currently in that tier, comprising more than 99 percent of the population.
Los Angeles County was placed under even stricter rules than those set by the state on Wednesday as Mayor Eric Garcetti announced an order closing non-essential businesses, banning all travel including walking and prohibiting social gatherings outside a single household.
Customers wait in line outside a store in Los Angeles’ Third Street Promenade on Thursday after the county was placed under new lockdown restrictions
The Third Street Promenade was nearly entirely deserted on Thursday after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s new lockdown went into effect
Customers are screened before entering an Apple store in downtown Los Angeles
It came as the county – the nation’s most populous with more than 10 million residents, sees ‘terrifying’ surges in daily cases with 6,000 infections recorded Tuesday.
Garcetti’s order said Los Angeles ‘is now close to a devastating tipping point’ that could overwhelm the hospital system, ‘in turn risking needless suffering and death’.
The mayor urged police and the city attorney to enforce the order, which carries misdemeanor penalties.
A normally busy Ventura Blvd in Tarzana is almost empty on Thursday during the second coronavirus lockdown to hit Los Angeles
The 101 freeway in Los Angeles is seen with little traffic on Thursday