San Francisco extended its stay-at-home order indefinitely right before the new year, citing a worrisome climb in hospitalization numbers around the Bay Area. Sunday, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) revealed the Bay Area’s current ICU capacity is now at 8.4% — but, per regional health officials, at least the post-Thanksgiving surge appears to be losing traction.

According to a news release published today from the CDPH, the Bay Area must "remain under the [current stay-at-home order] until at least January 8" and could involuntarily be extended well past that date, should ICU capacity projections prove bad. (Spoiler alert: They likely will... because they’re already pretty bad.) As of right now, the only region in the state not under the mandated stay-at-home order is Northern California, which has an ICU capacity of 35.5%. By comparison, the Greater Sacramento region is sitting at 10.3% — while both Southern California and San Joaquin Valley are at 0.0%.

But respite might be coming as some health officials in the Bay Area as the record-breaking ballooning of COVID-19 from the Thanksgiving holiday begins to deflate.

“[...] we have seen some softening in the rate of rise in our cases,” Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said, just before Christmas, according to KPIX. Though positive, UCSF epidemiologist George Rutherford added to the news outlet that it's not all too clear how long this "softening" of COVID-19 infections will last. Rutherford waxed we may not know for another week or more. And that's assuming "there [hasn't] been [any] damage done" by Christmas holiday travel New Year's Eve gatherings with members outside of people's immediate circle.

With the vaccine rollout going both slower and more clumsily than what was expected, social distancing and mask-wearing will exist as norms in 2021 for quite some time. Rutherford, too, notes that we'll be able to "extract ourselves" from the pandemic — or at least these massive COVID-19 surges — once a sizable portion of the population is vaccinated. (Many epidemiologists believe that successfully vaccinating between 50% to 90% of a population will yield herd immunity; the percentage, however, is directly tied to the R naught of any single pathogen.)

Currently, California has 2,391,261 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date, an increase of over 391,000 cases since California became the first state in the country last week to pass the two million confirmed cases of the novel respiratory disease.

Related: San Francisco Extends Stay-at-Home Order Indefinitely Into January

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