California officials expect some parts of the state to experience new and more restrictive stay-at-home orders as coronavirus cases continue to rise across the region as public health officials worry hospitals could be overrun with patients before the year ends.
During a briefing on Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom said that the continued surge of cases, if not controlled by public health officials, would force the state’s hospitals to hit intensive care capacity in the middle of December and be over capacity after Christmas eve.
The worrisome expectation comes amid California’s worst month of the coronavirus pandemic. Officials said December would more likely be worse due to the holiday season bringing families together.
Newsom said, “The red flags are flying in terms of the trajectory in our projections of growth.” The governor added that officials would be forced to take even more restrictive actions if the surge continued.
The state recorded nearly 9,500 cases per day in November, about three times the rate observed during October, and surpassing the previous peak of 8,700 a day in July. In the last weeks, California reported an average of 14,000 new cases per day.
In November, the Bay Area also recorded record-high numbers with an average of 1,091 cases per day. The region recorded its previous peak of 1,061 cases a day in August amid the summer heat. In October, officials reported having only an average of 480 cases per day.
Several public health officials said another spike of cases could happen within the next two weeks due to the Thanksgiving holiday bringing people together. Experts said that 10% of people who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus were brought to the hospital. Health officials expressed their concern that the rise of cases could overburden hospitals that are already flooded with patients.
The number of patients hospitalized in the Bay Area and California have tripled in the last month as of Sunday. Governor Newsom shared his grim forecast of the pandemic from his home in Sacramento while he quarantined after three of his children were exposed to the coronavirus,
Hospitals in the region report an occupancy of 60% for all of their beds, about 10% of which are due to the coronavirus. Experts anticipate the number to rise to 78% by Christmas eve, which worries public health officials due to the short supply of intensive care beds.
By December 24, officials expect the state to be filled 112% of capacity, with some areas more likely to be over capacity sooner. Expects said Rural Northern California counties could run out of ICU beds by next week. State forecasts predict the Bay Area to be flooded by early January if the numbers continue to grow, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The secretary of California Health and Human Services, Dr. Mark Ghaly, said during a Monday briefing, “The high case numbers that we’ve seen in the last week and ten days have not even begun to impact hospitals yet.” He added that hospitalizations are about two weeks behind and could quickly overrun critical care stations.
While Newsom announced there would be more restrictive stay-at-home orders being implemented if the surge continued, he did not specify the details of the guidelines. However, Ghaly hinted it would be focused on counties that are experiencing massive pressure on their ICU capacities.
At least 99% of the region’s population, about 51 out of 58 counties, were placed into the most restrictive reopening guideline, the purple tier. Both San Francisco and San Mateo counties joined the other on Saturday, with Marin County the only one in the red tier.