A regional stay-at-home order in effect across Southern California due to surging COVID-19 hospitalizations is expected to be formally extended Tuesday, continuing a ban on all gatherings of people from different households and strict capacity limits at many businesses.
The order, which covers an 11-county Southern California area, took effect at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 6 and was set to expire Monday. But with the region’s intensive-care unit capacity at hospitals still effectively listed at 0%, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the order is all but certain to be extended.
“It is clear and understandable that it’s likely those stay-at-home orders will be extended,” Newsom said Monday.
A formal announcement had been expected Monday, but Newsom reported the state was still compiling hospital and case data, and completing hospital- demand projections for the next four weeks.
“When we conceived of this framework, we are looking at projections four weeks out,” he said. `We are looking at current case rates, positivity rates, looking at the community surveillance that we’re doing and anticipating abased upon our modeling where that growth will be over a four-week period.
He noted, however, that based upon large number of people who appeared to have ignored warnings against travel over the Christmas holiday — and those who will likely so do over the upcoming New Year’s holiday, the state is bracing for a “surge on top of a surge, arguably on top of, again, another surge.”
He said the official announcement on extending the order will be made Tuesday by Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary.
Newsom noted that COVID hospital admissions have begun to plateau across much of the state — with the exception of Southern California, with Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties continuing to be the hardest hit.
Los Angeles County has rapidly become the epicenter of the pandemic in the state, with the state reporting more than 7,100 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, including more than 1,400 in intensive-care unit beds. Newsom said 96% of Los Angeles County hospitals diverted ambulances to other facilities at some point over the weekend due to overcrowding in emergency rooms — up from a normal average of 33% of hospitals going on diversion.
According to the governor, Los Angeles County hospitals on average spent 16 hours on diversion over the weekend, unable to find space for emergency patients.
The Southern California region covers Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Imperial, Inyo, Mono, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Most broadly, the order bars gatherings of people from different households.
Under the restrictions, essential businesses like grocery stores have to operate at 20% capacity.
Non-essential businesses are allowed to remain open during this lockdown, but operating at 20% capacity.
These places are closed:
- restaurant outdoor dining (but take-out and delivery still allowed)
- indoor and outdoor playgrounds
- indoor recreational facilities
- hair salons and barbershops
- personal care services like nail salons
- museums, zoos, and aquariums
- entertainment centers
- movie theatres
- cardrooms and satellite wagering
- amusement parks
Offices must also close and employees must work remotely, except for these critical infrastructure workers who must be on site to perform their jobs.
Hotels are closed to tourists, but are 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.
Professional sports can continue playing, but without a live audience.
Meanwhile, schools which have received waivers from the state are allowed to remain open.
Four of the five regions carved out by the state are under stay-at- home orders, covering 98% of the state’s population. Only far northern California is not under a stay-at-home order.
The order was triggered in each area when the region’s ICU bed availability dropped below 15%. As of Monday, the Southern California and San Joaquin Valley regions both had an official ICU bed availability of 0%. That percentage does not mean that there aren’t any ICU beds available, since the state adjusts the number based on the ratio of COVID-19 patients being housed in the units.