Weekly News Roundup for Friday, December 4th, 2020

California State Capitol Building in Sacramento

Californians are facing the holidays under new lockdown orders as coronavirus cases continue to rise. Wildfires are hitting Southern California once more. Thank you to our first responders, health care workers and other essential workers. Here’s the latest news from across the state.

State Health Officials Announce New Regional Stay-at-Home Order

Amid a relentless surge in coronavirus cases across California, state health officials on Thursday announced a new stay-at-home order determined by regional hospital capacity. The order imposes the toughest restrictions since March.  

The state is divided into five regions for tracking purposes: Northern California, the Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. Starting tomorrow, the order will be triggered as soon as a region’s ICU capacity drops below 15%. Several regions are predicted to reach this threshold within a matter of days.

The public health order requires Californians to stay at home as much as possible, while still being able to conduct essential business such as grocery shopping, exercising outdoors, picking up take-out and attending medical appointments. K-12 schools already open will remain so. Retail stores will be limited to 20% capacity. Hair salons, wineries, movie theaters, bars, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, museums and zoos must close, among other operations. Once a region is subject to the stay-at-home order, it will remain in effect for at least three weeks, dependent on improved ICU capacity.

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

Read the full order here.

Bay Area Moves into Lockdown Ahead of Mandate

Local officials in the Bay Area have announced stay-at-home orders ahead of the statewide mandate. Health officials in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, as well as the City of Berkeley, have chosen to put stricter measures in place before their ICU capacity reaches the 15% metric. Lockdown rules similar to the statewide mandate will be in effect from December 6 to January 4.

Los Angeles County, the hardest hit in the state’s latest outbreak, issued its own stay-at-home order last week. All Californians in the purple tier are subject to a limited stay-at-home order requiring non-essential work and activities to stop between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The order will remain in effect until 5 a.m. on December 21, 2020.

The Bond Fire Ravages Orange County

The Bond Fire has burned 6,400 acres in Santiago Canyon, east of Irvine in Orange County, and is currently 10% contained, according to Cal Fire. More than 25,000 people were evacuated along with the animal inhabitants of the OC Zoo. The fire started on Wednesday when Santa Ana winds whipped flames from a house fire into nearby dry vegetation.

The National Weather Service has issued red-flag warnings for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Southern California Edison cut power to more than 32,000 customers on Thursday morning, and San Diego Gas and Electric also cut power to over 62,000 customers. With high winds and no rain in the forecast, fire danger continues to be extremely high.

More Lawmakers Criticized for Dining Out Amid Shutdown Orders

Following Governor Newsom’s apology for dining with members of multiple households at the French Laundry, San Francisco Mayor London Breed was also reported to have attended a dinner party at the same restaurant. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has apologized after attending an outdoor Thanksgiving dinner at his parents’ home with members of five households, after advising constituents not to do so. Another lawmaker criticized for “do as I say, not as I do” behavior is Sheila Kuehl, member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Kuehl voted last week to ban outdoor dining in the county, and hours later was seen dining outdoors at an Italian restaurant in Santa Monica. (Source: The Washington Post)

Covid-19 Update

California has 1,264,539 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. This includes 18,591 newly confirmed cases this week. There have been 19,437 deaths in California from Covid-19. The seven-day positivity rate has risen to 7.7% and the 14-day positivity rate to 7.0%.

Here are the latest figures on ICU capacity by region: Bay Area 25.4%, Greater Sacramento 22%, Northern California 18.6%, San Joaquin Valley 19.7% and Southern California 20.6%.

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