California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced a new home stay order in parts of the state where hospitals have less than 15 percent of ICU capacity
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new home stay order Thursday for regions where less than 15 percent of ICU beds are available.
The new regulation divides the state into five regions, none of which currently meet the threshold for the new restrictions.
However, Newsom said that 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 that the fifth – the Bay Area – is expected to hit that mid-point Month.
If capacity exceeds 85 percent, the state will instruct affected regions to close hair salons and barber shops, limit retail stores to 20 percent, and only allow restaurants to offer takeaway and delivery for at least three weeks.
Northern California has 15 percent of its ICU beds, San Joaquin Valley 22 percent, Greater Sacramento 24 percent, Southern California 26 percent, and the Bay Area 28 percent.
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The new regulation divides the state into five regions, none of which currently meet the threshold for the new restrictions. However, according to Newsom, four out of five regions – Greater Sacramento, Northern California, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California – are on track to hit that threshold within days, and the fifth – the Bay Area – is expected to hit it by mid-month
The announcement comes after California broke its record for daily new cases of more than 20,000 on Wednesday, bringing the state's total to 1,264,539 with 19,437 deaths.
There are currently 9,702 people in the hospital, including 2,147 in intensive care units, and the state has fewer than 1,800 ICU beds available.
Newsom's new blocking rules
California's most recent blocking order will come into effect in regions where available ICU bed capacity is less than 15 percent. The restrictions apply for three weeks.
– Limit mixing with other households as much as possible
– The retail trade was at 20 percent capacity
– Restaurants for take-away and delivery only
– Complete closure of: playgrounds; Indoor recreational facilities; Hair salons and barber shops; Personal care services; Museums, zoos and aquariums; Movie theater; Wineries, bars, breweries and distilleries; Family entertainment centers; Card rooms and satellite betting; Live public sports; Amusement parks
Travel for essential services like medical supplies and groceries
Remote outdoor activities such as hiking
Schools that already give one-to-one tuition
Outdoor religious services
Offices that do not allow remote working
"If we don't act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed," Newsom said when he announced the order, which he called "pull an emergency brake," at a video press conference.
Infections have exploded to the point in recent weeks that the state is recording an average of 15,000 new cases per day and the positivity rate has more than doubled to seven percent in the two-week period ending Wednesday.
Newsom, who is quarantined at home after exposing three of his children to the virus, warned earlier this week that he would take "drastic measures" if the numbers didn't improve.
Public health officials said the current numbers do not include the COVID-19 infections that are expected to result from Thanksgiving vacation trips and gatherings.
These cases are likely to pop up in hospitals around Christmas, experts say.
During Thursday's press conference, Newsom highlighted the recent surge in coronavirus deaths in the state. This week there have been two consecutive days with a record 113 deaths.
A month ago, the state reported an average of fewer than 20 deaths a day.
Under the new regulation, regions that hit the 15 percent capacity threshold in the intensive care unit will have two days to adhere to the restrictions, Newsom said.
Residents of these areas must stay at home as much as possible, with a blanket ban on unnecessary gatherings, but they are allowed to continue important activities such as finding medical care and buying food.
The order also allows outdoor religious ceremonies and detached outdoor exercises such as hiking.
Schools that have already reopened for personal lessons are not affected.
Retail businesses will be limited to 20 percent capacity while all playgrounds, salons and barbershop, museums, cinemas, wineries, bars, casinos and amusement parks will have to be completely closed.
"We are at a turning point in our fight against the virus and we must act now to prevent the California hospital system from becoming overwhelmed in the coming weeks," Newsom said.
"I see clearly that this is difficult for all of us – especially our small businesses that are struggling to get through."
Newsom's most recent order mirrors the order it issued at the start of the pandemic in March, except that it is broken down by region rather than state.
California broke its record for daily new cases of more than 20,000 on Wednesday, bringing the state's total to 1,264,539 with 19,437 deaths
Newsom tightened restrictions a week before Thanksgiving, imposing a nightly curfew on non-essential 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 this category, making up more than 99 percent of the population
Percentage of ICUs available 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 admitted that getting back into isolation won't be easy for Californians, but the lockdown gives the state the best chance of containing the spread of the virus.
"We know the battle this pandemic has been for so many California families, but our actions have saved countless lives," said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Secretary for Health and Human Services, in a written statement.
"This targeted action will preserve vital intensive care beds for people who need them – whether they are COVID-19 patients or someone who has had a heart attack or stroke."
Newsom already tightened restrictions a week before Thanksgiving, imposing a nightly curfew on non-essential gatherings and businesses 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 this category, making up more than 99 percent of the population.
Los Angeles County was subject to even stricter rules than those set by the state on Wednesday when Mayor Eric Garcetti announced an order to close non-essential businesses that banned all travel, including walking, and banned social gatherings outside a single household.
Customers wait in line outside a store on Third Street Promenade in Los Angeles Thursday after the county imposed new lockdown restrictions
Third Street Promenade was almost completely deserted Thursday after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s new ban went into effect
Customers are screened before entering an Apple Store in downtown Los Angeles
It came as the county – the most populous in the nation with more than 10 million residents – sees "terrible" increases in daily cases, with 6,000 infections registered on Tuesday.
Garcetti's orders were that Los Angeles "is now near a devastating turning point" that could overwhelm the hospital system, "which in turn risks unnecessary suffering and death."
The mayor urged the police and the public prosecutor to enforce the order, which is punishable by felony sentences.
A normally busy Ventura Blvd in Tarzana is almost empty on Thursday during the second coronavirus lockdown in Los Angeles
The 101 freeway in Los Angeles is low on traffic on Thursday