California Coronavirus Update: Gov. Gavin Newsom Announces “Regional” Stay-At-Home Order Will Go Into Effect Saturday – Update

Gavin Newsom
Gavin Newsom

UPDATED with additional info: In a release late Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his Regional Stay-at-Home order would go into effect on Saturday at 12:59 p.m. PT. The triggering metric for the order would be when a region of the state has under 15% of its ICU beds left. That region would then have 48 hours to make adjustments.

The release also indicates that none of the state’s five regions “currently meet this threshold but some are projected to within the next week.”

One change from Newsom’s announcement earlier in the day is how long regions have to come into compliance. At his noon press conference, the governor said there would be a 48-hour grace period. But the actual order as written says, “For Regions where the adult ICU bed capacity falls below 15% after the effective date of this order, the Terms of this Order shall take effect 24 hours after that assessment.”

The order, signed by the state’s acting public health officer, also leaves the door open to further restrictions. “I will continue to monitor the epidemiological data and will modify this Regional Stay-at-Home Order as required by the evolving public health conditions,” it reads.

More below about the announcement. To read the order itself, click here.

PREVIOUSLY: On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom warned a “more dramatic” Covid-19 stay-at-home order might be in the offing.

On Thursday, after the state saw its highest new daily case count of the pandemic, the governor made good on that pledge.

Newsom said he was “pulling an emergency brake,” announcing a “regional” stay-at-home order in California based on a region’s available intensive care unit capacity.

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The governor then defined the state by five regions: Northern California, Southern California, the San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area and greater Sacramento.

The state is breaking down counties included in the five regions as follows:

Northern California: Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity

Bay Area: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma

Greater Sacramento: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo, Yuba

San Joaquin Valley: Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Benito, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, Tuolumne

Southern California: Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura

Regions that fall under the stay-at-home order requirement will be under the lockdown for three weeks. According to Newsom, no regions immediately were being put under the order.

The stay-at-home order will apply to areas where ICU capacity falls under 15%. Los Angeles County had only 122 such beds left as of Wednesday; Imperial County had only two ICU beds available on Thursday; and counties in the state’s Central Valley. It was unclear, however, how those county numbers would impact each of the five regions. Newsom indicated that four of the five regions, including Southern California, would be under the 15% ICU threshold by early this month. The fifth region, the Bay Area, is on track to meet that threshold by mid-December.

When regional lockdowns are lifted, state officials said, counties again will be categorized by Newsom’s four-tier, color-coded reopening system that debuted earlier this year.

Under the stay-at-home order, retail still will be allowed, but at max 20% capacity. Bars, wineries, personal-service businesses, hair salons and barbershops are to be closed. Schools with waivers can stay open, along with “critical infrastructure.” Restaurants will be limited to takeout and delivery service only.

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Newsom also said all non-essential travel would be “suspended.”

Regions on Thursday announced to be under the 15% threshold have 48 hours to make adjustments.

At one point, the governor tried to sound an optimistic note, saying there is “light at the end of the tunnel.”

“This is the final surge in this pandemic,” Newsom said hopefully. “We do not anticipate having to do this again.” Just moments before, however, the governor also recognized that the state has not yet begun to see the surge from Thanksgiving travel and events.

On Wednesday, the state’s Covid-19 dashboard indicated that 20,759 new cases had been reported over the past 24 hours. That’s nearly 2,500 more cases than the previous high of 18,350. Even worse, as testing numbers generally have trended upward, the state’s test positivity rate has skyrocketed. (More tests usually mean a declining positivity rate.)

On Thursday, California reported 18,951 new cases. That’s second only Wednesday’s number and marks the third time in 10 days the state has breached the previously unimaginable 18,000 daily new cases mark. The seven-day average of cases is 15,121.

The state’s 14-day average test positivity rate was 7% on Thursday. That’s up 1.8% in the past week alone.

The state as a whole had only 1,731 out of 7,662 ICU beds available on Thursday.

Earlier in the week, L.A. City and County officials issued their own “Safer-at-Home” orders, but they were much less stringent than those laid out by the governor on Thursday.

Watch Newsom’s announcement below.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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