Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday, Dec. 3 that if the ICU capacity in regional hospitals fell under 15 percent a stay-at-home order would be implemented. That means if 85 percent of the ICU capacity is filled with patients, the stay-at-home order would become effective. In the San Joaquin County Region (which includes Stanislaus), ICU capacity fell to 8.6 percent on Saturday, meaning 92.4 percent of the ICU in local regional hospitals, which include: Memorial, Doctors and Emmanuel, had full beds.
The stay-at-home order officially became effective on Sunday, Dec 6 at 11:59 p.m. and is expected to last through Jan. 4, given that ICU capacity decreases. As of this writing, San Joaquin Valley Region (which includes Patterson, Modesto and Turlock) and Southern California (Los Angeles, San Diego) are the only regions under the stay-at-home orders; with populations in both regions making up around 85 percent of the total California population at 27 million residents.
“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,” said Governor Newsom. “By invoking a stay-at-home order for regions where ICU capacity falls below 15 percent, we can flatten the curve as we’ve done before and reduce stress on our healthcare system. I’m clear-eyed that this is hard on all of us, especially our small businesses who are struggling to get by. That’s why we leaned in to help our small business owners with new grants and tax relief to help us get through this month. If we stay home as much as possible, and wear masks when we have to go to the doctor, shop for groceries or go for a hike, California can come out of this in a way that saves lives and puts us on a path toward economic recovery.”
The Governor also noted on Monday morning just how fast the increase in numbers can happen.
“There is an 8.4 percent positivity rate now in the state of California. Hospitalizations, we are now over 10,000 patients in our hospitals, a 72 percent increase over the last 14 days. You can see how quickly this grows,” said Newsom on Monday morning. “Just a few weeks ago we had shy of 6,000 Covid-19 positive patients in our hospital system and now there’s over 10,000 just like that, a 72 percent increase in just 14 days. If you carry that forward you understand why we made the announcement we did.”
The new orders will continue to be a hindrance to local businesses as hair and nail salons, barbershops and personal care services are ordered to close. Local restaurants who just started to catch a stride with outdoor dining will be forced to close that sector and go back to carry-out, pick-up, or delivery options only.
“It felt as if we just got used to having outdoor dining and now we have to go back to square one. It has been difficult getting employees back to work, just to cut their hours once again. Even though this is a struggle, we understand that it’s for the safety of everyone,” said Angie Becerra, owner of Tesoro Fine Mexican Restaurant in Turlock.
Retail businesses will remain open for holiday shoppers at a 20 percent maximum capacity. Schools that are open for face to face on a waiver will also be able to remain open.
Governor Newsom also announced the arrival of 327,000 vaccines in mid-December from American company, Pfizer, which collaborated with German BioNTech to create one of the world's first Covid-19 vaccines. The United States will be getting around 50 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Region IV, which includes Stanislaus, will be receiving 35,145 doses.
“Staying home for three weeks is a sacrifice, but if every Californian did that for a month, we could stop this disease in its tracks,” said Dr. Erica Pan, Acting State Public Health Officer. “This public health order strikes the balance between saving lives, providing essential services that we all rely on and still allowing Californians to participate in lower-risk outdoor activities that are crucial for our physical and mental health.”