California Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans for a regional stay-at-home order to contain the COVID-19 pandemic based on hospital capacity, which is designed to be triggered when fewer than 15 per cent of beds are available in intensive care units (ICUs) for a region.
The orders will be given by region, not by county as before, and the state is defined as five regions, including Northern California, Southern California, The San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area and Greater Sacramento, Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.
If the state government sees ICU capacity in any regional hospital networks drop below 15 per cent, a stay-at-home order will be applied to that region.
When they do, the state will prohibit residents from gathering, close all hair salons and barbershops, limit essential businesses such as grocery stores to operate at 20 per cent capacity, shut down bars, wineries salons and restaurant dining among others.
Schools can remain open if they've received a waiver and restaurants can continue take-out and delivery services.
No region has been directed to lockdown yet, Newsom said at his online press conference Thursday noon but expected the order to be issued soon based on statewide rising hospitalization data.
"As early as the next day or two and as late as the next week or so, we expect regions to reach 15 percent or less in ICU capacity," Newsom said.
California on Thursday reported 18,591 new coronavirus cases, a little fewer than Wednesday's 20,759 cases, the most ever in one day. A record 9,702 people are in hospitals, including 2,147 in ICUs, leaving the state only 1,731 available intensive care beds.
Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the United State with over 10 million residents, had only 122 such beds left as of Wednesday, according to local media, while rural Imperial County, which has a population of about 200,000, had only two ICU beds available on Thursday.
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