Gov. Newsom, CA health officials bracing for holiday COVID-19 surge

The state reported 33,170 new cases and 64 deaths in the last day. The test positivity rate remains at 12.5% over the last 14 days. Much of the state including the Bay Area remains under a stay-at-home order based on ICU capacity. Two of the hardest hit areas, the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California were elgibile to exit Monday. "The three week period is now due to expire both in San Joaquin and Southern California," said Gov. Newsom. "Begging the question, is it going to be extended? Pretty self-evident."

California Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mark Ghaly is set to formally announce the extensions Tuesday.  Stay-at-home orders must remain in place until the state projects a region's ICU capacity will stay at, or above 15% for at least four weeks. Here's where ICU capacity stands around the state:

  • Northern California: 29.3%
  • Greater Sacramento: 16.6%
  • Bay Area: 9.5%
  • San Joaquin Valley: 0%
  • Southern California: 0%

While zero doens't meant there are no beds available, it does mean hospital staffs are being pushed to their limit in surge protocols. "Absolute expression of admiration and respect for our nurses that are being asked to do more with less staff, less support, it’s absolutely heroic."

Newsom said barring Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties, most of the state is seeing hospitalizations start to plateau.  He's worried a spike from holiday travel could soon change that.  It's the same concern Bay Area health experts have and why they believe our stay-at-home order could extend past its expiration on January 8. "I think the stay-at-home order for the entire month, unfortunately, because we still haven't seen the Christmas surge yet and New Year's is even more tempting in terms of wanting to celebrate," said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, UCSF infectious disease specialist.