Stay-at-home orders in multiple regions across the state are likely to remain in effect past the minimum of three weeks as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to skyrocket, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday.
The state's stay-at-home order — triggered when a region's average intensive care unit capacity falls below 15% — now affects 98% of the state's population in the Greater Sacramento, Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions.
While the Bay Area's order went into effect Thursday, lasting at least through Jan. 7, the stay-at-home order could expire on Dec. 28 in the San Joaquin Valley and Dec. 30 in Southern California.
Newsom said current trends in coronavirus hospitalizations and ICU admissions will require the state to extend those expiration dates later into January.
"We continue to see record-breaking ICU capacity, hospitals that are getting filled up," Newsom said during a briefing on the state of the pandemic. "A surge that we are experiencing, not dissimilar to other parts of the country, but putting real challenges on our staffing here in the state."
ICU capacities in both the Southern California and San Joaquin Valley regions have fallen to 0%, according to Newsom, triggering the opening of surge facilities in the state's lower half to accommodate more patients. The Greater Sacramento area is at 16.2% and Northern California has 28.7% ICU capacity.
ICU bed occupancy has increased by 51% and hospitalizations have increased by 63% over the last 14 days ending Dec. 20, Newsom said. The state had 2,741 deaths over the 14-day period — 233 people on average each day, Newsom said.
Statewide, just 2.5% of ICU beds are still available, Newsom said.
The numbers are "a sober, sober reminder of how deadly this disease is," he said.
The Bay Area's ICU capacity sat at 13.7% as of Monday. Health officers in the region have predicted that the Bay Area's stay-at-home order could last well into January if the current wave of new cases and hospitalizations is not abated soon.
San Francisco's Director of Public Health Dr. Grant Colfax said earlier this month that the city could run out of ICU beds entirely by Dec. 27 if the current surge is not contained by methods other than vaccination.
"The vaccine will not save us from this current national, state or local surge," Colfax said during a Dec. 9 briefing. "There is simply not enough time."
The state's current modeling of hospitalizations statewide forecasts nearly 100,000 hospitalizations by mid-January, according to Newsom and state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. As of Sunday, 17,190 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 across the state.
Ghaly said an average of 12% of the coronavirus cases confirmed each day will result in hospitalization and 12% of those hospitalizations then become ICU patients.
"It is true that some regions may begin to exceed their existing stated hospital capacity, not just ICU capacity, by the end of the month and early in January," Ghaly said.
"We don't see that across the entire state quite at that time, but we're watching it very closely," he said.
A decision regarding an extension of stay-at-home orders will be based on multiple factors, including ICU capacity, the number of new cases over a seven-day period and how quickly the transmission rate is accelerating or decelerating, he said.
With the immediate focus on Southern California and San Joaquin Valley, Ghaly said state leaders are preparing to issue a decision for those areas at the end of this week or next week.
Newsom said the state continues to reassess its surge capacity resources — medical stations set up in addition to hospitals — and has asked the federal government for another field medical station to expand hospital capacity.
He said there was better news regarding vaccines. The state has received 110,000 doses of the newly authorized Moderna vaccine out of an anticipated 672,600 doses; California also received 327,600 doses of the first authorized vaccine, from Pfizer last week and anticipates another 233,025 doses from Pfizer this week, he said.
Watch Newsom's full Dec. 21 briefing: