The Southern California region and San Joaquin Valley region of the nation’s most populous state have fallen below 15% ICU hospital capacity, which will trigger a stay-at-home lockdown for three weeks under Governor Gavin Newsom’s new metric.
According to The Associated Press, the California Department of Health announced Saturday that available ICU bed capacity in the region, where over 23 million people live, had fallen below the 15% threshold. As such, stay-at-home orders as prescribed by Newsom earlier this week will take effect beginning on Sunday evening.
The San Joaquin Valley region, home to about 4.5 million of California’s roughly 40 million residents, also rolled out a stay-at-home order on Saturday. State health data indicates that the available ICU capacity in the San Joaquin Valley region hit 8.6% on Saturday, and in Southern California, the available ICU bed capacity has hit 12.5%.
Under the stay-at-home order, restaurants in the region must close all indoor and outdoor dining, and shopping centers must limit indoor capacity to 20%. Movie theaters, playgrounds, museums, and hair and nail salons must close, and overnight camping is prohibited. Houses of worship can remain open for outdoor activities only.
The governor has previously said that schools that have received waivers to open for in-person learning may continue to operate.
Since Newsom’s announcement, a sizable portion of the Bay Area has preemptively rolled out lockdown measures, despite not hitting the governor’s ICU bed threshold.
“The dark COVID winter we feared would come has arrived in the Bay Area,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa County in the Bay Area, reported The San Francisco Chronicle on Friday evening. “I and other health officers don’t think we can wait for the state’s new restrictions to go into effect later this month. We must act swiftly to save as many lives as we can. This is an emergency.”
The Bay Area counties impacted by the order have a combined population of roughly 5.9 million people, and Newsom has previously predicted that the rest of the region, where a little more than two million more people live, will hit the ICU bed threshold by the end of December.
In total, more than 33 million California residents have been affected by the lockdowns triggered by the governor’s new ICU bed availability metric, and even more residents could be next, according to Newsom’s own predictions from earlier this week.
“The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” said Newsom, who warned that every region in the state was expected to hit the threshold in December. “If we don’t act now, we’ll continue to see a death rate climb, more lives lost.”
Last month, Newsom put into place a nightly stay-at-home order, in the style of the March mandate, that was designed to curb public activity and prevent many businesses from operating between 10pm and 5am each day until mid-to-late December. Under the new mandate, some businesses could have their openings postponed even longer.
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