The Sacramento region, home to California’s capitol building and 3 million residents, will become the third of five regions in California to trigger a stay-at-home order based on Governor Gavin Newsom’s (D) new available ICU hospital bed threshold.
The state’s latest public health data says that the Sacramento region has dropped to 14.3% available ICU beds throughout the region, 0.7% lower than the threshold Newsom established to trigger a three-week stay-at-home order.
“The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” said Newsom when he announced the looming public health orders in early December. “If we don’t act now, we’ll continue to see a death rate climb, more lives lost.”
Under the stay-at-home order, retail stores will be allowed to operate at 20% capacity, but restaurants will be prohibited from offering indoor and outdoor dining. Newsom said schools that have already received waivers to operate won’t be affected, but nail salons, movie theaters, zoos, and playgrounds will be forbidden from operating under it.
The San Joaquin Valley region, which recently hit the ICU threshold, has dropped to 4.2% available ICU capacity from 8.6% over the weekend, according to state data. Southern California region, a mammoth area covering 23.1 million residents, has dropped from 12.5% ICU capacity over the weekend to 9.0% on Wednesday.
The Sacramento Bee reports that the region’s new order will go into effect on Thursday night, shortly before midnight. When Newsom announced the new 15% threshold, most Californians were already under a stay-at-home curfew limiting activities after 10pm.
About 30 million residents are now under Newsom’s stay-at-home orders, and an additional 5.9 million residents live in Bay Area counties that have decided to pull the trigger on stay-at-home orders before hitting the threshold. Newsom has not ordered the Bay Area region shuttered, but has suggested it would hit 15% by late December.
The Bay Area region currently has 20.9% ICU bed capacity, but more than a handful of jurisdictions have triggered stay-at-home orders anyway.
“The dark COVID winter we feared would come has arrived in the Bay Area,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa County in the Bay Area, reported The San Francisco Chronicle on Friday evening. “I and other health officers don’t think we can wait for the state’s new restrictions to go into effect later this month. We must act swiftly to save as many lives as we can. This is an emergency.”
“This should be the last major surge we face, and it will likely be the most challenging because we’re tired of this. I’m tired of this,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed in an apparent reference to the potential for vaccine approvals in December. “This is perhaps the final test we face as [a] city in this pandemic. We need to do what we can.”
San Francisco was the first city in the county to issue a stay-at-home order for the coronavirus outbreak back in March, which it billed as a shelter in place.
According to a television station in the Bay Area, several companies partially owned by California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom collectively received nearly three million dollars in Paycheck Protection Program loans intended to keep employees on the payroll during the COVID-19 recession.
KGO News’ investigative unit, the ABC7 I-Team, reports it “discovered discrepancies” that “appear to raise questions” about how much relief went to businesses under the umbrella of the PlumpJack Group, a hospitality management company founded by Newsom in 1992. Its properties include wineries, bars, restaurants, and a boutique hotel.
Meanwhile, several small businesses across the country that desperately needed financial support struggled to obtain PPP loans. According to the Los Angeles Times, the program stopped taking applications in August after directing $68.6 billion to 623,000 California companies.
ABC7 said it contacted the PlumpJack Group “for clarification on how the nearly $3 million of PPP funding was spent.”