California is again going under stricter public health measures in an effort to combat an ongoing and record-breaking surge in new cases of the coronavirus.
“Our ICU’s are climbing toward capacity. Our death rates are rising. To slow the surge of COVID-19 and save lives, California is introducing a regional stay-at-home order,” Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday afternoon.
The order will take effect based on regions of the state, north, south and central, as capacity in intensive care units of hospitals in each falls below 15 percent. Based on the current growth of the virus and related hospitalizations, more than 20 counties in Southern and Central California will be required to implement the restrictions on Friday, according to a report in the L.A. Times. Although California two weeks ago put a curfew in place, it did not result in a meaningful reduction in people mixing and a related reduction in transmission of the virus.
“We have four times the rate of transmission in the state than we had just four weeks ago, so it’s time we limit our movements,” Mark Ghaly, California’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, said. “We know that by reducing overall movement and mixing for a short period of time, we can get the gains we need and move over some stressed moments in hospitals.”
When a region goes under the order, as is expected, it will be for an initial period of three weeks. It will be lifted on a county-by-county basis, depending on transmission rates and available hospital capacity.
In order to limit people’s movement, businesses that require close contact like hair and nail salons and barbershops will again be required to close. Non-essential retail can remain open, but will be limited to 20 percent capacity. All restaurants will be limited to take-out only, with no indoor or outdoor dining allowed. And non-essential travel is being restricted throughout the state. This is almost identical to the tightened restrictions that Los Angeles put in place this week, and broader restrictions at the state-level have been expected, given the increasing number of positive cases. But it is not quite as strict as the first stay-at-home order issued in March, when California was the first state to shutdown all non-essential business.
Over the last week, the number of people ill with the virus in California has increased 48 percent hitting an average of 14,869 new cases per day. Hospitalizations have almost doubled, at more than 8,000 people confirmed with the illness in the state’s hospitals.
“We want to mitigate mixing. Full stop,” Newsom said. “We need to create less opportunities for the kind of contact, extended contact, that occurs in many of these establishments [that will be closing].”
But even with some non-essential businesses remaining open to an extent, with holiday shopping still very much underway, the state is urging people, as it did at the beginning of the pandemic, to simply stay home whenever possible.
“The message of today is, as much as you can, be at home,” Ghaly said. “Reduce your interactions so we can get this transmission rate down swiftly and we can have a positive impact in our hospitals.”
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