California governor: Most of state nears stay-home order
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — California will likely order most of its businesses to close or limit capacity in the coming days, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday, part of new rules triggered when fewer than 15% of beds are available in intensive care units for regional hospital networks.
Newsom said four of the state’s five regions — excluding the San Francisco Bay Area — will meet that threshold within a day or two. This includes El Dorado County, which as of Wednesday night has over 900 active cases and 14 hospitalizations, including one in intensive care. El Dorado has been lumped in with the greater Sacramento area.
When the regions do meet the threshold, the state will order the closure of all hair salons and barbershops, bars, breweries and distilleries, casinos and indoor and outdoor playgrounds.
Restaurants would be limited to take-out and delivery only, while retailers must limit customers inside their stories to 20% capacity during the busy holiday shopping season.
One area not really impacted by the order is ski and snowboard resorts, which are allowed to remain open as part of the governor’s guidelines to campgrounds, RV parks, ski operators and other outdoor recreation. His recommendations include implementing a reservation system which many of the resorts have already done.
“Skiing is one of the lowest risk outdoor activities people can do,” said Michael Reitzell, Ski California president in an email. “All of our resorts have been diligently working since March to ensure their operations can adhere to ever changing public health and safety requirements. We’re doing our very best to enforce new rules and policies, but we need skiers and riders to follow them. Mask up, physically distance, and respect everyone. That’s how we’ll stay open all season.”
Once triggered, regions would have 48 hours to implement the rules, which must stay in effect at least three weeks.
“The bottom line is if we don’t act now our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom said.
California on Wednesday reported more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases, the most ever in one day. A record 8,500 people are in hospitals, including more than 2,000 in intensive care units, leaving the state with fewer than 2,000 available intensive care beds.
Newsom — who is staying at home after three of his children were exposed to the virus — already has imposed restrictions, including a nighttime curfew in 51 of the state’s 58 counties, an area with nearly the entire state population.
Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous with 10 million residents, also has imposed tighter stay-at-home restrictions and a three-week ban on in-person restaurant dining because of what county health director Barbara Ferrer called “terrifying increases in numbers.”
Overall, California has reported more than 1.2 million COVID-19 cases and more than 19,300 deaths. The state reported 20,759 new cases on Wednesday, surpassing the previous high of 18,350 set just last week.
Public health officials have said the current figures don’t include the COVID-19 infections likely to arise from Thanksgiving holiday travel and gatherings that ignored social distancing precautions.
Those cases probably will start showing up in hospitals around Christmas, said Brad Pollock, associate dean for public health sciences at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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