California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday said he would issue a regional stay-at-home order in areas facing ICU bed shortages as COVID-19 cases surge across the state. “We are pulling that emergency brake,” Newsom said in a news conference Thursday.
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.
“This is the final surge in this pandemic,” Newsom said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
There are less than 2,000 available ICU beds left in the state, with over 1,800 people in ICU units across the state. Newsom said the rest of the units will be filled before January 1 if positivity rates remain the same.
“The effects of Thanksgiving have not yet been felt,” said Newsom. “Dr. Fauci I think said it best. He says we should anticipate ‘a surge on top of a surge.'”
The order divides the state into five regions: the Bay Area, greater Sacramento, Northern California, Southern California, and San Joaquin Valley. No region currently qualifies for the stay-at-home order. Several counties — Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Northern and Southern California — are projected to fall under the order as early as tomorrow.
With a ban on non-essential travel, all California residents are urged to stay home and only interact with members of their household. While Newsom did not announce how the non-essential travel ban would be enforced, he did indicate that hotels and motels will be restricted to only hosting guests with “essential travel.” Those who travel to and from California must still abide by active stay-at-home orders, including a 14-day quarantine.
More than 20,000 new virus cases were reported in the state on Wednesday — a new high. That same day, the U.S. surpassed 100,000 hospitalizations, and 3,100 people died from COVID-19 across the country, making it the single deadliest day since the pandemic began.
“This is the most challenging moment since the beginning of this pandemic,” Newsom said Thursday. “If there was ever any time to put aside your doubt, to put aside your skepticism, to put aside your cynicism to put aside your ideology, to put aside any consideration except this: Lives are in the balance. Lives will be lost unless we do more than we’ve ever done.”