California on Friday descended further than ever into the depths of the coronavirus pandemic. The state reported a whopping 13,005 new daily cases. That puts the current surge in cases beyond even the worst moments of the spring and summer wave which peaked at 12,807 on July 27, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.
The new state record comes just 24 hours after Los Angeles County’s health officer, Dr. Muntu Davis, announced the county saw an all-time high in daily cases on Thursday, at just over 5,000. That puts the two-day average of new cases at 4,500, a number which, if it continues for 5 days, will result in local lockdown measures in L.A.
The state’s number of patients hospitalized with COVID grew 4.5%. It grew another 3.2%. California’s top health officer said that about 12% of coronavirus infected people end up in the hospital. That means Friday’s case count will result in 1,300 new patients in the state’s hospitals. A rise like that over 2 weeks could begin to put significant strain on the system, which has 73,000 beds. The number of available ICU beds in the state has been cut by more than 1/3 in the past month. Deaths, which are a lagging indicator, have also begun to rise, more than doubling since Halloween.
Newsom announced earlier in the week that he was beginning to implement the state plan to surge ICU beds, beginning with hard-hit Imperial County. One big issue however is not the beds, but staffing. ICU-trained nurses are in short supply and they cannot be trained in a short period of time. That means the state’s greatest challenge, especially as healthcare workers get sick, may be staffing.
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In light of that unprecedented, rapid rise in COVID-19 across California, Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced a limited Stay-at-Home Order. The order requires “generally that non-essential work, movement and gatherings stop between 10 PM and 5 AM in counties in the purple tier.” That means basically every county in Southern California and 94% of the state’s population.
That announcement was made as the state recorded a near-record number of daily COVID cases on Thursday, at 11,478.
Newsom’s office confirmed to Deadline late Thursday that film and TV production is exempt from the order, as the entertainment industry’s workers are considered essential. Read the updated list of essential workers here.
Due to the rise in #COVID19 cases, CA is issuing a limited Stay at Home Order.
Non-essential work and gatherings must stop from 10pm-5am in counties in the purple tier.
This will take effect at 10pm on Saturday and remain for 1 month.
Together–we can flatten the curve again.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) November 19, 2020
“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm,” said Governor Newsom. “It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again.”
The limited Stay at Home Order is designed to reduce opportunities for disease transmission. Activities conducted during 10 PM to 5 AM are often non-essential, according to the governor’s office, and more likely related to social activities. Those type of gatherings have a higher likelihood of leading to reduced inhibition and reduced likelihood for adherence to safety measures like wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distance.
California’s Director of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mark Ghaly warned, if the surge does not stop, “All tools are on the table. We will explore further restrictions” if the tide cannot be turned.
When asked specifically about those tools, Ghaly said that they could be more prohibitive versions of those that have already been employed. He also said that “there are other tools in the toolbox. We have developed others. They are additive and we will use them.”
He ended by saying that, “The days and weeks to come will be different from the past. We’re going to have to keep our guard up, make some tough decisions.”
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