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New statewide stay-at-home order sounding likely as first week of December brings escalating COVID hospitalizations

New statewide stay-at-home order sounding likely as first week of December brings escalating COVID hospitalizations
Empty tables at Pier 39. | Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
By Jay Barmann - Published on November 30, 2020.

Just ten days after announcing a 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew for all "Purple" tier counties in California, Governor Gavin Newsom today gave a stark warning that stricter stay-at-home orders akin to what we saw in March may be coming within days amid quickly escalating coronavirus case counts and hospitalizations.

In the ten days since that order was announced, California went from having 41 out of 58 counties in the most restrictive "Purple" tier to having 51 — and now just seven counties, including Marin County and a few more rural spots, are under less stringent restrictions, and there are no counties left in the least restrictive "Yellow tier." San Francisco and Santa Clara counties joined the "Purple" in the last week, and the 10 p.m. rule for non-essential activities takes effect Monday night in SF.

But even more extreme measures sound likely to follow, as SFist reports via Newsom's 12:30 p.m. Monday press briefing. Citing the state's rapidly filling intensive care units (ICUs), which are at 78% capacity as of today. State health officials project based on current new-case numbers that they will overflow by mid-December, at 112% of capacity, as regular hospital beds quickly fill up as well.

"The red flags are flying," Newsom said, while going on to say that California has been preparing for a surge like this and will hopefully be able to weather the storm — though case counts need to stabilize and show no signs of doing so.

"The high case numbers we've seen in the last week or ten days have not even begun to impact hospitals," said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly in the same briefing. Ghaly says that by most estimates, hospitals can expect to see about 12 percent of those infected with serious cases requiring hospital care about two weeks after the infection takes hold.

In the Bay Area, a stricter stay-at-home order may or may not include a ban on all outdoor dining — which is something that Los Angeles County already instituted last week. This could also mean a return to shutdowns for all personal care businesses like hair and nail salons, massage parlors, and tattoo shops, and a return to only curbside retail sales. The details as they pertain to San Francisco and other Bay Area counties remain to be seen — but if March, April, and May are to serve as examples, SF officials have tended to be even more strict in their dictums than the state at large.

Newsom discussed the various state funds and programs available to help small businesses impacted in the pandemic, but sheer size of the impact isn't even imaginable with the holiday shopping season just getting underway.