Published on : Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Southern California is likely to extend its regional stay-at-home order due to surging COVID-19 hospitalisations, continuing a ban on all gatherings of people from different households and strict capacity limits at many businesses. The previous order which covered an 11-county Southern California area took effect from December 6 and was set to expire on Monday.
The Southern California region covers Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Imperial, Inyo, Mono, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Most broadly, the order bars gatherings of people from different households. Under the order, the all indoor recreational facilities, hair salons and barbershops, personal care services, museums, zoos, and aquariums, movie theatres, wineries, bars, breweries and distilleries, as well as family entertainment centers, cardrooms and satellite wagering, limited services, live audience sports; and amusement parks have been forced to close operations.
Schools with waivers are allowed to remain open, along with “critical infrastructure” and retail stores, which will be limited to 20% of capacity. Restaurants are restricted to takeout and delivery service only. Hotels are allowed to open “for critical infrastructure support only,” while churches have been restricted to outdoor only services. Entertainment production including professional sports would be allowed to continue without live audiences. Four of the five regions carved out by the state are under stay-at- home orders, covering 98% of the state’s population.
Only far northern California is not under a stay-at-home order. The order was triggered in each area when the region’s ICU bed availability dropped below 15%. In some counties, the official ICU bed availability of 0%. However, with the region’s intensive-care unit capacity at hospitals still effectively listed at 0%, Governor Gavin Newsom said the order is all but certain to be extended. A formal announcement is still due but Newsom said the state was still compiling hospital and case data, and completing hospital- demand projections for the next four weeks. He informed that the official announcement on extending the order will be made Tuesday by Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary.
Governor Newsom mentioned that authorities are looking at current case rates, positivity rates, and the present community surveillance and based upon the modelling, anticipating where the growth will be over a four-week period. He also noted that based upon the large number of people who appeared to have ignored warnings against travel over the Christmas holiday and those who will likely do so over the upcoming New Year’s holiday, would require the state to brace for a “surge on top of a surge, arguably on top of, again, another surge.”
Los Angeles County has rapidly become the epicenter of the pandemic in the state, with the state reporting more than 7,100 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, including more than 1,400 in intensive-care unit beds. Newsom also said 96% of Los Angeles County hospitals diverted ambulances to other facilities at some point over the weekend due to overcrowding in emergency rooms, up from a normal average of 33% of hospitals going on diversion.