As predicted, just over a week after San Francisco and four other Bay Area counties voluntarily locked things down again amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, the region has hit the state's threshold for the stay-at-home order that Governor Gavin Newsom first announced in early December. And therefore the remaining counties that haven't issued their own stay-at-home orders will have to abide by the state's order effective at midnight on Thursday.
The Bay Area, which under the state's latest framework includes the nine usual counties along with Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, fell to 12.7% ICU bed availability today, as ABC 7 reports. That means that San Mateo County — where the health officer said last week he did not think new stay-at-home orders would do much good — Napa County, Santa Cruz County and Solano County will have to shut down outdoor dining, gyms, personal care services, and indoor services at places of worship starting on Friday, one week before Christmas. The order stays in place for at least three weeks, or until ICU beds become more available.
Retail stores are permitted to remain open at 20% capacity, playgrounds are open with limitations, and outdoor gym activities are permitted.
San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area that have been under stay-at-home orders for the past 10 days have seen significant backlash this time around, particularly from suffering business owners and restaurant employees who are seeing the worst financial impacts.
But the effects of the surge in case counts are being felt in hospitals across the state and the region. Marin County reported zero available ICU beds as of Tuesday, and a survey by the New York Times published Tuesday found just a handful of available ICU beds at dozens of Bay Area hospitals, including SF General, which had just three available ICU beds last week, and Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco, where there were just two available beds.
Across the country, ICU occupancy hit 78% last week, and California currently has 80% of its ICU beds filled statewide.
California broke yet another record for daily new COVID cases on Tuesday with 53,000, and added 295 new deaths. In total, 21,500 Californians have died in the pandemic to date, with nearly 2,200 of those in the Bay Area.
As SFist reported on Monday, the situation seems likely only to get worse in the Bay Area in the coming weeks given the case tallies the region has seen. Experts have said that, on average, around 12% of those who are diagnosed with COVID-19 end up requiring hospitalization. With 39,000 new cases recorded in the Bay Area over the last two weeks, that would mean around 4,700 patients in need of hospital care. As of Monday, there were 1,621 COVID patients in Bay Area hospitals.
Photo: Drew Beamer