New health restrictions for ‘Southern California’ in effect as hospitalizations increase

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – New health restrictions are now in effect in San Diego County and the rest of Southern California, shutting down indoor service at restaurants among other closures, due to the increasing number of coronavirus hospitalizations.

A state-mandated “regional stay-at-home” order went into effect at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, triggered when intensive-care unit bed availability remained below 15% after Saturday’s daily update, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The 11-county Southern California region’s available ICU capacity was 12.5% Saturday, a decrease from 13.1% the day before. The ICU capacity Sunday for the region was 10.3%. San Diego County had 20.5% of its ICU beds available as of Saturday.

On Sunday, the county reported 35 new hospitalizations, bringing the total to 4,871. Three more patients were placed in intensive care, bringing the total to 1,068.

The Southern California region consists of San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, Imperial, Inyo, Mono, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The stay-at-home order will be in place for three weeks and prohibits gatherings of people from different households. Regions will be eligible to exit from the order on Dec. 28 if ICU capacity projections for the following month are above or equal to 15%.

On Sunday, San Diego County officials reported 1,703 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths.

That brings the total number of cases to 92,171 with 1,062 deaths.

County Supervisors Chairman Greg Cox said the three-week stay-at-home order was tough to take.

“There’s no way around it,” Cox said during a special Saturday briefing. “It stinks.”

But in recent weeks, the county has experienced a rise in the number of coronavirus cases, hospitalization rates and the use of ICU beds, Cox said.

“We know the timing could not be worse,” because of the holidays, Cox said. “But we know better days are ahead,” he added, referring to the arrival of vaccines.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said county residents are facing a tough situation.

“But COVID-19 is a tough virus,” Fletcher said. “This is the toughest fight we’ve had to face during the pandemic. But hope is on the horizon with a vaccination, but it’s not here now.”

Fletcher said the county faced an unprecedented situation.

“We don’t have a choice,” Fletcher said. “It is a deadly pandemic that is ravaging our community.”

Under the order, the following businesses/recreational facilities will be forced to close:

— indoor and outdoor playgrounds;

— indoor recreational facilities;

— hair salons and barbershops;

— personal care services;

— museums, zoos, and aquariums;

— movie theaters;

— wineries;

— bars, breweries and distilleries;

— family entertainment centers;

— cardrooms and satellite wagering;

— limited services;

— live audience sports; and

— amusement parks.

Schools with waivers will be allowed to remain open, along with “critical infrastructure” and retail stores, which will be limited to 20% of capacity. Restaurants will be restricted to takeout and delivery service only. Hotels are allowed to open “for critical infrastructure support only,” while churches are restricted to outdoor only services. Entertainment production — including professional sports — are be allowed to continue without live audiences.

Some of those restrictions are already in effect in select counties.

California has grouped its counties into five regions: The Bay Area, the Greater Sacramento Region, Northern California, the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

The state reported Sunday that the Bay Area’s ICU capacity is at 24.1%, Greater Sacramento at 18.2% and Northern California at 26.5%.

The San Joaquin Valley joined the Southern California region in the new shutdown protocol Sunday night, as its ICU capacity dropped to 6.6% on Sunday. It was at 8.6% on Saturday.

During Saturday’s briefing, KUSI News asked San Diego County Health Officials (question submitted via text), what ICU capacity our hospital’s normally operate at? San Diego County officials did not even ask the question at the briefing, instead the responded, “we will have to get back to you with the number, Don’t have that handy at the press conference.”

Since San Diego County Health Officials are in support of Governor Newsom’s lockdown, it is surprising that they don’t know how hospitals normally operate after basing the regional stay-at-home order off of ICU capacity at our hospitals.

The state’s full stay-at-home order can be read here.

Categories: Coronavirus, Health, Local San Diego News, Politics