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Stay-at-home order issued for San Francisco Bay Area, ahead of state mandate

California Street, usually filled with iconic cable cars, is seen mostly empty in San Francisco, California on March 17, 2020.
Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images

San Francisco Bay Area health officials announced on Friday that they would implement California’s new stay-at-home order early, even though they haven’t reached the state’s threshold triggering the new restrictions.

“Today is a really tough day,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said during a press briefing. “Our hospitalization rates are rising locally, especially in our ICU right now. And just as importantly, hospitalizations are rising everywhere, so if we run out of beds, there won’t be another county that can help us.” 

On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would be split into five regions — the Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, Northern California, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. If the remaining ICU capacity in a region falls below 15%, it will trigger a three-week stay-at-home order, Newsom said.

The order would require bars, wineries, personal services, hair salons and barbershops to temporarily close. Personal services are businesses like nail salons, tattoo parlors and body waxing, according to the state’s website.

Schools that meet the state’s health requirements and critical infrastructure would be allowed to remain open. Retail stores could operate at 20% capacity and restaurants would be allowed to offer take-out and delivery, Newsom said

While none of the regions met the ICU threshold to trigger the stay-at-home order on Thursday, Newsom warned that every area was projected to drop below 15% ICU capacity at some point in December. The Bay Area was expected to be the last region to reach that mark, he said.

Health officers for the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara as well as the city of Berkeley made the joint announcement on Friday, saying they would implement the order early. The new restrictions will last until Jan. 4, 2021, according to the order.

However, the announcement did not include some counties in the Bay Area region, as defined by the state’s order, including Santa Cruz, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Solano, Sonoma.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

“It takes several weeks for new restrictions to slow rising hospitalizations and waiting until only 15 percent of a region’s ICU beds are available is just too late,” said Dr. Tomas Aragon, San Francisco health officer, in a statement. “Many heavily impacted parts of our region already have less than 15 percent of ICU beds available, and the time to act is now.”

California is reporting a weekly average of roughly 16,392 Covid-19 cases daily, a more than 21% increase compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

San Francisco public health director Dr. Grant Colfax said based on current trends, San Francisco’s hospitals would run out of ICU beds on Dec. 26.

“Our San Francisco ICU, intensive care unit, bed capacity is quickly decreasing,” Colfax said. “We are in an extremely volatile position for our health-care system.”

Breed in a tweet after Newsom’s announcement on Thursday said that while the order didn’t apply to San Francisco yet, the county was “looking closely at local data and talking to our neighboring counties about next steps.”

“I don’t want do any of this,” Breed said on Friday. “I know this means people’s jobs, their businesses, their livelihoods are at stake. This is going to be painful.”

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