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  • Writer's pictureThe Big Magazine Staff

Regional Stay-at-Home Order Extended Southern California as ICU Capacity Remains at 0%

December 29, 2020 By: Associated Press, Carlos Herrera, Sara Welch

California health officials announced on Tuesday the extension for the stay-at-home order for heavily infected counties amid the Covid-19 case surge including all of Southern California and San Joaquin Valley.

Regional Stay-at-Home Order Extended  Southern California as ICU Capacity Remains at 0%
Regional Stay-at-Home Order Extended Southern California as ICU Capacity Remains at 0% - The Big Magazine

“We, essentially, are projecting that the ICU capacity is not improving in Southern California and San Joaquin Valley, and that demand will continue to exceed capacity,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said.

Coronavirus hospitalizations are stabilizing in parts of California, but patients are still overwhelming hospitals in a large swath of the state, leading Gov. Gavin Newsom to warn Californians to brace for the effect of a “surge on top of a surge” from recent holiday travel.

Intensive care units in Southern California and the agricultural San Joaquin Valley have no capacity remaining, according to state figures, and Newsom said it was “self-evident” his latest stay-at-home order would be extended Tuesday in places where hospital ICUs have less than 15% capacity.

In a press conference on Monday, Newsom said that even with hospital admissions plateauing in some places, the state was destined to move into a “new phase” that it’s been preparing for as it sets up hospital beds in arenas, schools and tents, though it is struggling to staff them.

“As we move into this new phase, where we brace, where we prepare ourselves for what is inevitable now … based on the travel we have just seen in the last week and the expectation of more of the same through the rest of the holiday season of a surge on top of a surge, arguably, on top of, again, another surge,” Newsom said.

State officials also notified hospitals that the situation is so dire they should prepare for the possibility that they will have to resort to “crisis care” guidelines established earlier in the pandemic, which allow for rationing treatment.

The surge of infections is due in large part to Thanksgiving travel and celebrations, which happened despite warnings from health officials not to gather because the nation’s most populated state was already seeing explosive growth in cases.

It’s created the greatest challenge for California’s health system since the pandemic began, with case counts, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 regularly breaking records.

While daily coronavirus cases were down to 31,000 Monday from a seven-day average of above 37,000, it was likely due to a lag in data from the weekend, Newsom said.

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