Coronavirus latest: California’s Newsom raises prospect of new stay-at-home order

Peter Wells in New York

California Governor Gavin Newsom said hospital capacity and demand would become a more important factor in determining restriction levels for counties and that a worsening of these metrics could result in the potential introduction of a stay-at-home order.

Mr Newsom said that without any intervention that meaningfully changes current trends, the state’s number of hospitalisations could double or triple within the next month, and that statewide demand for beds in hospital intensive care units is projected to have outstripped supply by Christmas Eve.

Hospital bed, ICU and medical staff capacity would be added to other metrics currently used to determine the colour-coded system that governs levels of economic restrictions in California’s counties, Mr Newsom said during a teleconference on Monday afternoon.

Fifty-one of the state’s 58 counties, covering more than 95 per cent of the state’s nearly 40m residents, are in the purple tier that permits only essential businesses to open.

About 8,578 people are in California hospitals with Covid-19, state data on Monday showed, just 242 patients shy of the record it set during the summer surge in July, and up from just over 3,200 at the end of October.

Officials estimate about 12 per cent of new coronavirus cases in California end up as hospitalisations about two weeks later.

The state health department today revealed 14,034 new Covid-19 cases and 20 deaths.

Over the past week, the state has averaged 14,657 new infections a day, a record, and well above the previous peak in July of 9,881 a day, Mr Newsom said.

“If these trends continue, California will need to take drastic action, including a potential stay-at-home order for regions with concerning hospitalisation or ICU capacity,” a slide from Mr Newsom’s presentation said.

Earlier today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed similar steps, adding hospital capacity to the metrics governing levels of economic activity in “micro-clusters”.

He also warned that a “hospitalisation crisis” could result in potentially reintroducing the “pause” on non-essential activity that was put in place during spring when New York was among the hardest-hit states during the early stage of the pandemic.

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