California regions with alarming low hospital capacity will face stay-at-home orders in the coming days, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday.
While no region has yet reached the limit of less than 15 percent capacity in intensive care units, Newsom warned that 4 of the 5 geographic regions dividing the state could soon need to pull “the emergency brake” and enact a three-week limited lockdown to reduce the spread of the virus and avoid further straining the state’s health care system. The San Francisco Bay area has not yet reached the threshold, while Northern California, Southern California, the San Joaquin Valley and the greater Sacramento regions are experiencing shrinking capacity that could reach the announced bounds in the next day or two, Newsom (D) said.
Under the new order, residents would be directed to remain in their homes except for essential activities, restaurants would only offer takeout or delivery, and bars, wineries, hair salons and other personal services would close. Schools could remain open, as well as retail with a maximum 20 percent capacity. These restrictions would be enforced in conjunction with already-implemented local and statewide rules, including a 10 p.m. curfew in most of the populous counties.
“This is the most challenging moment since the beginning of the pandemic,” Newsom said. “This is the time, if there was ever any doubt, to put aside your doubt, to put aside your skepticism, put aside your cynicism, put aside your ideology, to put aside any consideration except this: Lives are in the balance.”
Statewide, daily infections and current hospitalizations have topped records: On Thursday, California tallied 18,591 new cases, surpassed only by Wednesday, and more than 9,700 hospitalizations for covid-19, the highest number yet.
Efforts to limit people to their homes are complicated by the raging wildfires fueled by high winds in Southern California, forcing evacuations and driving utilities to cut power.