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California has unveiled plans to issue regional stay-at-home orders for areas in the state where intensive care units are expected to fall below a capacity of 15%, with the vast majority of the state expected to meet that criteria within the next few days.
Gavin Newsom, California’s governor, announced the new restrictions as cases in the state reached the highest reported since the pandemic began.
“The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom said. “If we don’t act now, our death rate will continue to climb.”
The state has been divided into five regions: northern California, the Bay Area, the greater Sacramento area, southern California and the San Joaquin valley. Every region but the Bay Area is expected to reach an ICU capacity of below 15% within the next two days, Newsom said. The Bay Area should reach that point by mid-December.
The new stay-at-home order will include restrictions on business and gathering spaces – no salons, no gyms, no indoor worship, no playgrounds. Restaurants will be allowed to offer only take-out or delivery. Retail that is already limited to 20% will be allowed to remain open, but all non-essential travel is restricted.
The new restrictions come one day after the Los Angeles mayor warned his city was nearing “a devastating tipping point” and ordered residents to stay in their homes and avoid social gatherings.
The city’s restrictions mirror county-wide guidelines and limit nearly all social gatherings of people from more than a single household. People may “lawfully” leave homes to engage in exempted activities like healthcare operations, supermarkets and restaurants, the directive said. The guidelines also exempt religious services and protests protected by the constitution.
“Our city is now close to a devastating tipping point, beyond which the number of hospitalized patients would start to overwhelm our hospital system, in turn risking needless suffering and death,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti late on Wednesday.
Los Angeles is the second-largest city in the US with a population of over 3.9 million. Los Angeles county, which is home to the city, has recorded 414,185 infections and a death toll of 7,740, according to LA Public Health, and the region has seen hospitalizations rise sharply in the past few weeks.
Los Angeles county last week imposed a three-week end to outdoor dining, and issued a broader stay-home order taking effect Monday.
The head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned on Wednesday that the Covid-19 pandemic has continued to rage across the US, and that the country faced its grimmest health crisis yet over the next few months, before vaccines become widely available. More than 270,000 Americans have died from Covid-19 to date.
Newsom warned that while worse may still be to come – “the effects of Thanksgiving, that has not yet been felt” – talk around vaccination development has been optimistic. “This is not a permanent state. This is what many have predicted,” he said.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel. We are a few months away from seeing real progress,” Newsom said. “We do not anticipate having to do this once again but we all need to step up and we need to meet this moment head on and do everything we can to stem the tide, bend the curve and do everything we can necessary to get that vaccine into the hands of every Californian in the state.”
Agencies contributed reporting
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: California announces sweeping new Covid restrictions, including planned stay-at-home orders | California