US

Bay Area orders 8.5 million people to stay home from Monday as state hits record 22,000 cases a day

The Bay Area health officials pre-empted California Governor Gavin Newsom’s new rules – announced on Thursday – and on Friday declared their own lockdown would come into effect on Sunday and last until January 4

Six San Francisco Bay Area regions issued a new stay-at-home order on Friday as the number of virus cases surge and hospitals fill.

Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, said on Thursday that the area was exempt from his regional lockdown.

But the local health officials overrode him and decided to pre-emptively enforce a lockdown, to stem what they see as a tsunami of new cases coming their way.

‘We cannot wait until after we have driven off the cliff to pull the emergency [brake],’ said Santa Clara County Health Officer Sara Cody. 

The changes will take effect for most of the area at 10pm on Sunday and last through January 4. 

The counties have not yet reached Newsom’s threshold, announced a day earlier requiring such an order when 85 per cent of ICU beds at regional hospitals are full, but officials said the hospital system will be overwhelmed before the end of December when Newsom’s order would apply.

‘We don’t think we can wait for the state’s new restrictions to go into effect later this month. This is an emergency,’ said Contra Costa Health Officer Chris Farnitano.

The order came the same day the state recorded another daily record number of cases, with 22,018, and hospitalizations topped 9,000 for first time.

As of Friday, California has 1,286,557 confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in 19,582 deaths. 

The number of COVID-related deaths increased by 0.7 per cent from the prior day total of 19,437. 

The number of hospitalizations due to confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases in California reached a total of 9,948 on Friday – an increase of 246 from the prior day total. 

The number of ICU patients due to confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases in California reached a total of 2,248, an increase of 101 from the prior day total. 

It means restaurants will have to close to indoor and outdoor dining, bars and wineries must close along with hair and nail salons and playgrounds. 

Shoppers at Costco in Santa Clarita fill their trolleys on Friday, ahead of Monday's lockdown

Shoppers at Costco in Santa Clarita fill their trolleys on Friday, ahead of Monday’s lockdown 

Food is loaded on Friday as drivers in their vehicles wait in line on arrival at a 'Let's Feed LA County' food distribution

Food is loaded on Friday as drivers in their vehicles wait in line on arrival at a ‘Let’s Feed LA County’ food distribution

Retail stores and shopping centers can operate with just 20 per cent customer capacity. Gatherings of any size with people outside of your household are banned.

Berkeley Health Officer Lisa Hernandez said people should not meet in person with anyone they don’t live with, ‘even in a small group, and even outdoors with precautions.’

‘If you have a social bubble, it is now popped,’ Hernandez said. 

‘Do not let this be the last holiday with your family.’

The new stay-at-home order will cut sharply into the most profitable shopping season and threaten financial ruin for businesses already struggling after 10 months of on-again, off-again restrictions and slow sales because of the pandemic.

The five Bay Area counties, along with San Mateo County, were the first region in the country to order a lockdown on March 17 when the area of seven million people had fewer than 280 cases and just three deaths. 

San Mateo County officials were not part of the news conference Friday announcing the changes.

Officials said it was much easier to implement such an order regionally, since the Bay Area counties are so closely connected.

In Santa Clara County, the most populated in the region and home to two million residents and the headquarters of Apple and Google, officials previously banned all high school, collegiate and professional sports and imposed a quarantine for people traveling to the region from areas more than 150 miles away after officials began seeing an uptick in cases following Thanksgiving Day. 

Compliance officers fanned out throughout the county on Thanksgiving Day and continue to visit business to make sure they follow capacity rules and other precautions.

All the counties, except for Marin, are in the most restrictive purple tier in the state’s pandemic blueprint for the economy, forcing most non-essential indoor activities to stop.

A street blocked off for outdoor dining is mostly empty on Friday in Sausalito, California

A street blocked off for outdoor dining is mostly empty on Friday in Sausalito, California

Chandeliers hangs above a space where outdoor dining had been set up at Flemings Prime Steakhouse in Woodland Hills

Chandeliers hangs above a space where outdoor dining had been set up at Flemings Prime Steakhouse in Woodland Hills

Empty tables are seen outside of a restaurant set up for outdoor dining on Friday in Burbank, California

Empty tables are seen outside of a restaurant set up for outdoor dining on Friday in Burbank, California

Public health officials have warned that the toll from Thanksgiving gatherings could start to swamp hospitals by Christmas.

In the last month, the state imposed restrictions in 52 of the state’s 58 counties, including asking people not to leave the state and implementing an overnight curfew for all but essential trips, such as getting groceries.

But it has not worked, because data shows people are ignoring the rules, Dr Mark Ghaly, the state´s top public health officer, acknowledged on Thursday.

Newsom’s order divides the state into five regions – none of which currently meet the threshold for the new restrictions. 

He said four out of five regions – Greater Sacramento, Northern California, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California – are on track to hit that threshold within a few days and the fifth – the Bay Area – is expected to meet it by the middle of the month. 

Bay Area officials decided not to wait that long. 

Newsom said that when the areas do surpass 85 per cent capacity, the state will order affected regions to close hair salons and barber shops, limit retail stores to 20 per cent capacity and only allow restaurants to offer take-out and delivery for at least three weeks. 

Northern California has 15 per cent of its ICU beds available, San Joaquin Valley has 22 per cent, Greater Sacramento has 24 per cent, Southern California has 26 per cent and the Bay Area has 28 per cent. 

Scroll down for video 

The announcement on Thursday came after California broke its record for daily new cases on Wednesday with more than 20,000, bringing the state’s total to 1,264,539 with 19,437 deaths. 

Newsom’s new lockdown rules 

California’s latest lockdown order will go into effect in regions that drop below 15 percent available ICU bed capacity, with restrictions lasting for three weeks.   

Restrictions: 

– Limit mixing with other households as much as possible 

– Retail held to 20 percent capacity 

– Restaurants limited to takeout and delivery

– Full closure of: Playgrounds; indoor recreational facilities; hair salons and barbershops; personal care services; museums, zoos, and aquariums; movie theaters; wineries, bars, breweries, and distilleries; family entertainment centers; cardrooms and satellite wagering; live audience sports; amusement parks

Exceptions: 

Travel for essential services such as medical care and groceries 

Distanced outdoor activity such as hiking 

Schools already holding in-person classes 

Outdoor religious services

Offices where remote work is not possible

‘The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,’ Newsom said while announcing the order, which he called ‘Pulling an Emergency brake’, at a video press conference. 

Infections have exploded in recent weeks to the point that the state is averaging 15,000 new cases a day and the positivity rate has more than doubled, reaching seven percent in the two-week period ended Wednesday.

Newsom, who is quarantining at home after three of his children were exposed to the virus, warned earlier this week that he would take ‘drastic action’ if the numbers didn’t improve. 

Public health officials have said the current figures don’t include the COVID-19 infections expected to arise from Thanksgiving holiday travel and gatherings. 

Those cases probably will start showing up in hospitals around Christmas, experts say.  

During Thursday’s press conference Newsom emphasized the state’s recent surge in coronavirus deaths – noting there were two consecutive days this week with a record 113 fatalities.

A month ago the state was reporting an average of less than 20 deaths per day.  

Residents of the areas under the restrictions will be required to stay home as much as possible, with a blanket ban on nonessential gatherings, but they will be allowed to continue essential activities including seeking medical care and buying groceries. 

The order also allows outdoor religious ceremonies and distanced outdoor exercise such as hiking. 

It does not affect schools that have already reopened for in-person classes.  

Retail businesses will be limited to 20 per cent capacity while all playgrounds, salons and barbershops, museums, movie theaters, wineries, bars, casinos and amusement parks must close entirely.   

‘We are at a tipping point in our fight against the virus and we need to take decisive action now to prevent California’s hospital system from being overwhelmed in the coming weeks,’ Newsom said.

‘I’m clear-eyed that this is hard on all of us – especially our small businesses who are struggling to get by.’ 

Newsom’s latest order mirrors the one he imposed at the start of the pandemic in March, except that it is broken down by region rather than statewide. 

Newsom ramped up restrictions a week before Thanksgiving, imposing a nighttime curfew on nonessential gatherings and business in counties that are in the strictest purple tier of the state's color-coded system for reopening the economy. Fifty-one of the state's 58 counties are currently in that tier, comprising more than 99 percent of the population

Newsom ramped up restrictions a week before Thanksgiving, imposing a nighttime curfew on nonessential gatherings and business in counties that are in the strictest purple tier of the state’s color-coded system for reopening the economy. Fifty-one of the state’s 58 counties are currently in that tier, comprising more than 99 percent of the population

Percentage of available ICU units by region

 Bay Area: 28%

Greater Sacramento: 24%

Northern California: 15%

San Joaquin Valley: 22%

Southern California: 26%

The governor and members of his office acknowledged that it won’t be easy for Californians to go back into isolation, but said locking down will give the state its best chance of curbing the spread of the virus.  

‘We know what a struggle this pandemic has been for so many California families, but our actions have saved countless lives,’ Dr Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services Secretary, said in a written statement.

‘This targeted action will preserve vital ICU beds for people who need them – whether they’re COVID-19 patients or someone who has suffered a heart attack or a stroke.’

Newsom already ramped up restrictions a week before Thanksgiving, imposing a nighttime curfew on nonessential gatherings and business in counties that are in the purple tier of the state’s color-coded system for reopening the economy. 

Fifty-one of the state’s 58 counties are currently in that tier, comprising more than 99 per cent of the population.   

Los Angeles County was placed under even stricter rules than those set by the state on Wednesday as Mayor Eric Garcetti announced an order closing non-essential businesses, banning all travel including walking and prohibiting social gatherings outside a single household.

Customers wait in line outside a store in Los Angeles' Third Street Promenade on Thursday after the county was placed under new lockdown restrictions

Customers wait in line outside a store in Los Angeles’ Third Street Promenade on Thursday after the county was placed under new lockdown restrictions

The Third Street Promenade was nearly entirely deserted on Thursday after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's new lockdown went into effect

The Third Street Promenade was nearly entirely deserted on Thursday after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s new lockdown went into effect

Customers are screened before entering an Apple store in downtown Los Angeles

Customers are screened before entering an Apple store in downtown Los Angeles

It came as the county – the nation’s most populous with more than 10 million residents, sees ‘terrifying’ surges in daily cases with 6,000 infections recorded Tuesday. 

Garcetti’s order said Los Angeles ‘is now close to a devastating tipping point’ that could overwhelm the hospital system, ‘in turn risking needless suffering and death’. 

The mayor urged police and the city attorney to enforce the order, which carries misdemeanor penalties. 

A normally busy Ventura Blvd in Tarzana is almost empty on Thursday during the second coronavirus lockdown to hit Los Angeles

A normally busy Ventura Blvd in Tarzana is almost empty on Thursday during the second coronavirus lockdown to hit Los Angeles

The 101 freeway in Los Angeles is seen with little traffic on Thursday

The 101 freeway in Los Angeles is seen with little traffic on Thursday


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button