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Newsom Warns Of Incoming Stay-At-Home Orders Based On Regional ICU Capacity
Gavin Newsom, governor of California, speaks during a news conference in Sacramento, California, U.S., on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. Newsom outlined his plan to lift restrictions in the most-populous U.S. state, saying a reopening depends on meeting a series of benchmarks that would remake daily life for 40 million residents.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Governor Gavin Newsom divided the state of California into five regions on Thursday and announced a new COVID-19 closures metric, which will be used to issue sweeping stay-at-home orders should ICU hospital bed capacity increase past a certain point.

Under the new system, California will give an area 48 hours before issuing a stay-at-home order should ICU bed capacity drop below 15% in a region. The regions include the Northern California region (765,000 residents), the Greater Sacramento region (3 million residents), the San Joaquin region (4.5 million residents), the Bay Area (8.5 million residents), and the Southern California region (23.1 million residents).

While no single region has reached the threshold to trigger a stay-at-home order, Newsom said in a press conference Thursday that each region is expected to hit the 15% ICU bed availability threshold by early December, with the exception of the Bay Area, a region the state of California expects to hit the threshold by mid-to-late December.

“The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” said Newsom. “If we don’t act now, we’ll continue to see a death rate climb, more lives lost.”

Once a regional stay-at-home order takes effect, it will remain in place for three weeks.

Newsom said schools that “received waivers” to open ahead of a stay-at-home order will be allowed to remain open, restaurants will be allowed to continue take-out and delivery service, and retail spaces will be allowed to remain open at 20% capacity.

Earlier this month, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, Newsom instituted a nightly stay-at-home curfew covering nearly 95% of the state. The governor’s office described the order in a press release as “the same as the March Stay at Home Order, but applied only between 10 PM and 5 AM and only in purple tier counties that are seeing the highest rates of positive cases and hospitalizations.”

This article has been updated after publication to include additional information. 

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