More than two-thirds of California residents reported receiving texts telling them to stay inside their homes after the state recorded many new COVID-19 cases in the last week.

Orders to stay at home

The text messages were sent out to Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley residents at around 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday. The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services posted a tweet saying the residents were told to avoid going outside and follow the new stay-at-home orders.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, government officials have used text messaging to warn residents about the threat of the virus. In April, New York City officials sent an emergency warning to residents’ phones, calling out to licensed health workers to support health facilities struggling with the health crisis.

In October, Utah government officials sent an emergency warning to all registered phones inside the state about the surging coronavirus cases.

The text messages in California come amid the rising number of coronavirus cases, with the past seven days seeing 169,354 new infections. The numbers represent the highest new cases in the state since the start of the pandemic. The daily counts in California have also more than doubled in the last two weeks.

On Tuesday, California also reported a grim milestone of 20,000 deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic.

During a news conference, California Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, said in the past two weeks, the state’s hospitalizations have increased by 71% while ICU admissions have gone up by 68.7%. The medical professional expressed his concern about the challenges that highly trained health care workers are experiencing would not be able to provide their full service.

Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley were placed under new health orders on Sunday when their ICU capacities dropped below California Governor Gavin Newsom’s threshold of 15%.

New stay-at-home orders

Los Angeles County officials ordered in November that all indoor and outdoor dining operations be shut down. However, despite agreeing the order was needed to curb the spread of the infection, some officials expressed their concerns about its effect on the economy, CNN reported.

On Tuesday, a superior court judge ruled county health officials “acted arbitrarily” when they made the order. The official said authorities did not provide a “required risk-benefit analysis” needed to support the temporary shutdowns.

The judge said that since county health officials did not give any scientific data that supported the closure of indoor and outdoor dining operations, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is not allowed to extend the order for more than three weeks, which is the original period of the order, and is set to end on December 16.