California to impose regional hospital stays to ease Covid hospital stays, Governor says

California Governor Gavin Newsom

Rich Pedroncelli | Pool | AP

California will impose limited home stays on certain regions of the state where Covid-19 cases are plaguing intensive care units, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday.

The state is divided into five regions – the Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, Northern California, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California. If the remaining ICU capacity in any region falls below 15%, a three-week home stay order will be triggered, Newsom said.

The order would require bars, wineries, personal services, hair salons and barber shops to be temporarily closed. Personal services are available to businesses like nail salons, tattoo parlors, and body waxing, according to the state's website. Schools that meet state health and critical infrastructure requirements could stay open, and retail stores could be 20% busy, and restaurants could offer take-out and delivery, the Democratic governor said.

So far, none of the regions have triggered the stay at home order, although every part of the state is expected to be at some point in December. Newsom said it expects four of the five regions to have less than 15% intensive capacity "by the next day or two". The Bay Area is slated to hit that milestone by mid to late December, he said.

"The bottom line is, if we don't act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed. If we don't act now, we will continue to see death rates rise, more lives lost," Newsom said during a press conference.

According to a CNBC analysis of data from the COVID Tracking Project, which is being conducted by journalists in the Atlantic, around 8,208 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in California on Wednesday, based on a weekly average. This number represents an increase of more than 35% from a week ago.

"We are in the most dangerous time of this pandemic for our state and region," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed in a tweet following the governor's announcement.

"Cases and hospitalizations are on the rise. If we don't get things under control right away, we could run out of hospital beds in the Bay Area," said Breed.

Under the state's four-tier reopening plan, most of the state's population remains below the most restrictive "widespread" tier. Thursday's announcement would impose the restrictions in "a much broader, much broader way," Newsom said.

The new measures are designed to prevent Californians from mingling with people who do not live in their household and holding gatherings outside rather than inside. However, people are still being encouraged to walk their dog, play sports, go sledding, or go for a walk on the beach, Newsom said.

"This is not a permanent condition. This is what many had projected," Newsom said, adding that this will be the "final surge" in pandemics as vaccines near approval.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

– CNBC's Riya Bhattacharjee contributed to this report.

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