On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that both Southern California and the Central San Joaquin Valley regions will likely see their region-wide lockdown orders extended on Tuesday.
Governor Newsom, as well as other state officials, noted that while other Californian regions have seen the percentage of available ICU beds tick up in recent days, both Central and Southern California still had COVID-19 ICU availability at 0%. This is in addition to other factors such as nearly all ambulances having to be sent elsewhere in the LA system due to urgent care hospitals being overwhelmed, over 30,000 new cases being reported daily, and over 60 people dying of COVID-19 in the state every day.
While the lockdown extensions are not a sure thing, health officials have said that it is all but guaranteed.
“They will announce once Monday’s data is collected, their projections over the next four-week period,” said Governor Newsom at a remote press conference on Monday. “It is clear and understandable that it’s likely those stay-at-home orders will be extended.
“The majority of the state is actually seeing that rate of growth beginning to subside with one major exception, and that’s Southern California, that continues to see higher case rates.
“96% of LA County ambulances were on diversions. That’s in essence when you can’t accept a patient for urgent needs. They’re diverted to another part of the system. They’re diverted to another part of the county or they’re diverted to another part of the region 96% of all ambulances in LA County were, at some point, on diversion during the weekend.”
The lockdown order, which began December 8th, was expected to end on Tuesday, although hints were given earlier this month that it could extend until at least February. Lawsuits attempting to end the lockdown have, so far, been unsuccessful largely due to the state stressing the need for public health and safety.
The order itself greatly limits social and business activity in the state, from greatly reducing out of residence gatherings, stopping all dining inside or outside restaurants, greatly reducing capacity inside stores, and even shutting down additional non-essential businesses for the time being.
Regional lockdowns heading into 2021
Many health experts have also raised concerns that the lockdown could last for several months into 2021 due to various COVID-19 surges and patients continuing to overwhelm hospitals.
“For many, COVID-19 seems almost non-existent,” explained Los Angeles hospital adviser Damon Ford to the Globe. “Except for masks and washing their hands more, people are of what a mess it is inside hospitals right now. I’ve gone through many, and there are beds in hallways, nurses reaching the breaking point, and angry people demanding treatment when surrounded by people obviously there for COVID. And much worse than that.
“We were warned last month that it might come to this if ICU beds were all gone. Like the 15% ICU availability threshold for the lockdown. Even if you look at the unadjusted score, which takes into account beds put aside for non-COVID emergencies, patient transition days where the bed is open, and other factors, there are still only a few hundred open, and right now that figure is at 11%. It’s still well under the 15% needed, and since the Department of Public Health said they would readjust the figure every two weeks, LA and other regions have to wait until January to get a better figure. If they do at all that is because of an expected Christmas surge.
“This is real, and we are going to see lockdowns continue because people keep being selfish and travel for holidays through crowded areas rather than wait a few months.”
In his announcement, Governor Newsom said that lockdown extensions would be announced Tuesday upon completion of final ICU demand projections.
“We are likely, I think it’s pretty self-evident, going to need to extend those regional dates,” added the Governor on Tuesday. “Based upon all the data and based upon all these trend lines, it is very likely based on those current trends that we’ll need to extend that stay at home order, which you recall was a three-week order when we announced it.”
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