Stay-at-home orders in multiple regions across the state are likely to remain in effect past the minimum of three weeks as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to skyrocket, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday.
The state’s stay-at-home order — triggered when a region’s average intensive care unit capacity falls below 15 percent — now affects 98 percent of the state’s population in the Greater Sacramento, Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions.
While the Bay Area’s order went into effect Thursday, lasting at least through Jan. 7, the stay-at-home order could expire on Dec. 28 in the San Joaquin Valley and Dec. 30 in Southern California.
Newsom said current trends in coronavirus hospitalizations and ICU admissions will require the state to extend those expiration dates later into January.
“We continue to see record-breaking ICU capacity, hospitals that are getting filled up,” Newsom said during a briefing on the state of the pandemic. “A surge that we are experiencing, not dissimilar to other parts of the country, but putting real challenges on our staffing here in the state.”
ICU capacities in both the Southern California and San Joaquin Valley regions have fallen to 0 percent, according to Newsom, triggering the opening of surge facilities in the state’s lower half to accommodate more patients.
Statewide, just 2.5 percent of ICU beds are still available, Newsom said.
The Bay Area’s ICU capacity sat at 13.7 percent as of Monday. Health officers in the region have predicted that the Bay Area’s stay-at-home order could last well into January if the current wave of new cases and hospitalizations is not abated soon.
San Francisco’s Director of Public Health Dr. Grant Colfax said earlier this month that the city could run out of ICU beds entirely by Dec. 27 if the current surge is not contained by methods other than vaccination.
“The vaccine will not save us from this current national, state or local surge,” Colfax said during a Dec. 9 briefing. “There is simply not enough time.”
The state’s current modeling of hospitalizations statewide forecasts nearly 100,000 hospitalizations by mid-January, according to Newsom and state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. As of Sunday, 17,190 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 across the state.
Ghaly said an average of 12 percent of the coronavirus cases confirmed each day will result in hospitalization and 12 percent of those hospitalizations then become ICU patients.
“It is true that some regions may begin to exceed their existing stated hospital capacity, not just ICU capacity, by the end of the month and early in January,” Ghaly said.
“We don’t see that across the entire state quite at that time, but we’re watching it very closely,” he said.