Bay Area County health officials today announced they are speeding up the schedule to introduce the governor’s latest coronavirus restrictions to stifle cases of hospital overcrowding.
The announcement comes a day after state officials on Thursday indicated that hospital intensive care capacity in the Gulf region is expected to fall below the 15% threshold in the next few weeks, triggering regional closures of businesses and activities under a new state order.
“We anticipate that number will reach in the next two weeks, so there’s no reason to wait,” said Jeff Smith, Santa Clara County executive. “It’s like waiting for braking when we want to cross the cliff.” If you receive a public health benefit, you must do so now. “
Alameda County health officials said late Thursday that “it may be necessary to introduce state restrictions on staying home before the Bay Area region meets the threshold to protect the availability of ICU beds and save lives.”
Health officials in Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Berkeley City plan to discuss the new restrictions at a 13-hour press conference.
Smith said county health officials are still ironing out the details of when they will take effect, what they will limit and to what extent they will reflect state limits, and where they can go further.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, the Gulf region has taken a leading role in treating the virus. In March, the region adopted the country’s first closure, which took place days before Governor Gavin Newsom announced his nationwide home order, which is also the first in the pandemic nationwide.
But as the state is currently experiencing a record spread of infections and hospitalizations, the region would not be the first to prevent the state from closing businesses and gatherings before the new state mandate. Santa Clara County passed stricter rules last weekend, as did Los Angeles City and County, introducing comprehensive restrictions on most activities.
State restrictions, which Newsom said are likely to be introduced in the Bay Area in just over a week, require California residents in the affected regions to stay home as much as possible to limit mixing with other households, which could lead to the spread of COVID-19. It restricts travel to critical services and restricts outdoor activities.
They would close outdoor playgrounds, hairdressers, hairdressers and personal care services, museums, campsites, zoos and aquariums, theaters, wineries, bars, breweries, distilleries, family entertainment centers, card rooms, live sports and amusement parks. Restaurants would be limited to exports and transportation.
But schools already open to personal learning can still remain open under state restrictions, and retailers can operate at 20% capacity. Churches could continue outdoor services.
Last weekend’s Santa Clara County ordinance banned contact sports, imposed mandatory quarantine for travelers and residents from more than 150 miles, and imposed stricter restrictions on the use of retail stores.
The state’s Thursday decree divided California into five regions, along with the Bay Area region with the nine counties surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area and Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. Friday’s press conference was not attended by health officials from Santa Cruz and County Monterey who often followed their colleagues around the bay in their own bay. Smith said this simply happened because Bay Area health officers have a long-standing communications team.
The state currently ranks intensive care capacity in the Gulf region at 25.3%, the highest of the five regions. The others are Greater Sacramento with 22.2%, Southern California with 20.6%, San Joaquin Valley with 19.7% and Northern California with 18.6%.
The availability of intensive care in hospitals is a bit fluid, said Jan Emerson-Shea, vice president of foreign affairs at the California Hospital Association.
“The numbers may change on a daily basis based on available staff and equipment,” Emerson-Shea said. “In addition, the data do not include” surge beds “that are not specifically designated as ICU or non-ICU beds until they are actually activated by the hospital.”
Nevertheless, John Swartzberg, a clinical emeritus professor of infectious diseases and vaccinology at UC Berkeley, said it was not such that hospitals could only drive the number of intensive care beds to increase their capacity.
“I don’t think it’s realistic to think that you could just or unwillingly just add a bed,” Swartzberg said. “Staff is the main constraint.”
The California Hospital Association said it supported Newsom’s Thursday order on further restrictions based on access to intensive care.
“The number of COVID-19 positive cases is growing at an alarming rate, far higher than in California during our previous summer wave,” said Carmela Coyle, president of the California Hospital Association. “The steps the governor has taken today are essential to stopping unnecessary illness and death among Californians.”
And Swartzberg praised Bay Area public health officials on Friday for their work to stop the virus.
“The Bay Area had the best leadership in the state and was arguably the best leadership in the country for public health officials,” Swartzberg said. – We’ve seen this since the beginning of the pandemic. I think we have benefited from some very good health officers who work in a very collegial way and with a culture in the Bay that worked in gloves in addition to public health. “
Check back for more information on this evolving story.