California Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced a new regional stay-at-home order on Thursday, days after he said that most of the state’s intensive care beds could be over capacity within weeks amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
The measure forces a three-week closure of all bars, wineries, hair salons, and barbershops in regions where ICU beds have reached 15% capacity. Retail stores will be allowed to operate at 20% capacity, while restaurants will be limited to takeout and delivery service only. Non-essential travel will be restricted.
While no region currently meets the criteria that would trigger the added restrictions, Newsom said four of the five regions are projected to meet ICU capacity by mid-December.
Statewide travel will also be temporarily halted, Newsom said, but schools will remain open and he encouraged people to visit parks and exercise. Restaurants can continue to serve takeout and delivery, he said.
The state health department said there were 2,006 patients in intensive care units with coronavirus and only 1,810 ICU beds remaining available. That patient load ties for the second-highest of the entire pandemic, and the state’s intensive care capacity is now officially at its lowest point ever during the health crisis.
As efforts continue to combat the coronavirus pandemic El Centro Regional Medical Center CEO Dr. Adolphe Edward announced during the Imperial County Health Department press conference that State assistance has arrived to set up a 50-bed temporary facility. The expanded facility will be strategically located adjacent to the hospital on the north side of the campus.
As of Dec. 3rd, ECRMC has 60 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Six people have died this week due to COVID-19 in Imperial Valley.
“This is a vicious virus. This is not the flu virus. Believe us when we tell you that treating COVID patients is a very hard thing because of the suffering patients go through,” Edward said.
The positivity rate in the Imperial Valley is at 28 percent.
Asked if the raising COVID-19 numbers in Imperial County would force the health department be implementing stricter “Stay-At-Home” orders similar to what Los Angeles is doing, Imperial County Health Officer, Dr. Stephen Munday said they are currently in strict level but if they see that the state mandates don’t work they will take additional measures.