California extends the house keep order for 2 areas

Clinicians work in the former lobby of Providence St. Mary Medical Center, which was converted into a care area to treat suspicious COVID patients in Southern California in Apple Valley, California on December 23, 2020.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

California will extend its home stay order for two regions of the state – Southern California and San Joaquin Valley – where intensive care capacity is being weighed down by an onslaught of Covid-19 patients, the state’s health minister. Dr. Mark Ghaly said on Tuesday.

The regional order, first announced by Governor Gavin Newsom on December 3 and due to expire on Monday, divides the state into five regions – the Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, Northern California, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California. If the remaining ICU capacity in any region drops below 15%, a three-week home stay order will be triggered, Newsom said.

Ordering requires the temporary closure of bars, wineries, personal services, hair salons, and barber shops. Personal services are companies like nail salons, tattoo parlors, and body waxing, according to the state’s website. The order also prohibits gatherings of any size and requires “100% masking and physical distancing”.

As of Tuesday, all but the Northern California area were under a stay home order, Ghaly said. In the future, however, both the San Joaquin Valley, which includes the central portion of the state, and the regions of Southern California will remain under order, he said.

Those two regions will continue to be subject to restrictions until state forecasts show ICU capacity is at least 15%, he said. Ghaly added that the projections will be calculated and updated daily in the future. Just because the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions stay under order doesn’t mean they will be there for the full three weeks, he said.

According to a slide presented by Ghaly at a press conference, these two regions did not show any available ICU capacity. Four-week projections from state health officials have shown that intensive care unit capacity is not improving in these two regions, Ghaly said.

“We are essentially assuming that ICU capacity in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley will not improve and that demand will continue to exceed capacity,” Ghaly said at a press conference.

According to Ghaly, hospital stays in Covid-19 have increased more than 36% across the country to 20,390 in the past two weeks. Intensive care hospital stays increased by more than 35% over the same period.

The extension of the home stay order in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions came as no surprise after Newsom warned during a press conference Monday that it “goes without saying” that the restrictions likely need to be extended.

The Democratic governor said the state had sent additional teams to help hospitals in Los Angeles county, where growing hospital stays were particularly worrying.

Counties in the Southern California region include Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, and Santa Barbara, among others. The San Joaquin region includes Fresno, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Kern, and Merced, among others.

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