Southern California has dipped to 13.1% available ICU beds according to new figures released Friday night. That number is below the 15% threshold the state has set, meaning the region could enter into new Safer at Home restrictions as early as Sunday.
The California Department of Public Health released these new figures for available ICU beds late Friday night. If Southern California’s available ICU bed count stays below 15% on Saturday, it will likely trigger the new restrictions, going into effect Sunday night.
Under plans outlined by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday, whenever a region’s available ICU beds drops below 15%, it would trigger tighter restrictions for that region. The governor’s plan divides the state into five different regions for the purposes of these ICU bed counts.
“The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom said Thursday. “If we don’t act now, we’ll continue to see a death rate climb, more lives lost.”
Under the new restrictions, essential businesses like grocery stores would have to operate at 20% capacity, down from the current 35% capacity under which they have been operating since Nov. 30 when Los Angeles County officials imposed new restrictions.
Non-essential businesses would be allowed to remain open, but operating at 20% capacity, the same capacity under which they have been operating since Nov. 30 when LA County imposed its restrictions.
Other changes that take effect when the state’s tighter regional restrictions go into effect include closing of:
- indoor and outdoor playgrounds
- indoor recreational facilities
- hair salons and barbershops
- personal care services like nail salons
- museums, zoos, and aquariums
Restaurants in LA County have been closed to in-person dining since Nov. 25, thanks to an order from county health department. However, when the state’s restrictions go into effect, restaurants throughout the rest of the Southern California region would be forced to close except for take-out orders or deliveries.
Hotels would have to close to tourists, but would be allowed to remain open for “critical infrastructure support only,” such as a place for front-line workers like hospital employees to stay between shifts.
Churches may continue to hold services, but would be restricted to outdoor services only.
Professional sports can continue playing, but without a live audience.
Meanwhile, schools which have received waivers from the state would be allowed to remain open.
These impending state restrictions on the region come as LA County is seeing its highest numbers since the coronavirus pandemic began in March. On Friday, LA County reported 8,860 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,668 people hospitalized, both all-time highs.
LA County has been breaking its record for number of cases and hospitalizations throughout the week.
The Southern California region as defined by the state’s five region system for ICU bed counts includes 11 counties. Those counties are Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Imperial, Inyo, Mono, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.