There is positive news today from Sacramento, as California’s Governor Gavin Newsom lifts the stay-at-home order and the 10pm-5am curfew across the state. The decision comes as coronavirus conditions continue to improve, with intensive care unit (ICU) capacity ameliorating enough to merit the change. The stay-at-home order applied to the Southern California, San Joaquin Valley, and Bay Area regions, which collectively include over 90% of the state’s 39 million population. California now shifts back to the tiered color system, first introduced by Newsom in late August 2020.
California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly commented on the update. He said, “California is slowly starting to emerge from the most dangerous surge of this pandemic yet, which is the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been hoping for.” (CNN)
By the Numbers
- As of today, there are 4,475 people with COVID-19 in ICUs statewide. This is a slight increase from 4,131 patients one month ago.
- California sits right in the middle of the pack in terms of positivity rate in the United State (26th)
- The 14-day positivity rate dropped from 14.6% to 9.6%
- California has tripled their pace for administering COVID-19 vaccines in the last 3 weeks (43,459 to 131,620)
The goal is to vaccinate 1 million more people in the next 10 days.
What’s Next for California
Today’s announcement means a shift back to the back to the colored tiered system implemented by Governor Gavin Newsom, (Blueprint for a Safer Economy). In addition, it allows businesses such as restaurants to resume outdoor operations in numerous regions. This means that all but four counties will shift to the most restrictive purple tier. Restaurants in L.A. County will allow outdoor dining to resume by Friday. Meanwhile, personal care services such as hair and nail salons can reopen with limited capacity immediately.
What about the vaccination efforts? The state will soon prioritize first responders, food and agriculture workers, and teachers, and school staff to receive the vaccine. Those groups will be vaccinated only after all healthcare workers and residents 65 and older are vaccinated.
Today’s change comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed against Governor Newsom by a group of 50+ wineries and restaurants in Napa and Sonoma County. The suit alleges that these restauranteurs’ constitutional rights are being trampled as they slip into financial ruin. The lawsuit hinges on the fact that the governor and state public health department have not provided scientific evidence that indicates that outdoor dining is more dangerous than other permitted activities, such as shopping in indoor malls and working on film sets.
Newsom maintains that the sudden decision is not a result of the ongoing recall campaign or lawsuits against him. “That’s just complete and utter nonsense,” he stated explicitly. He indicated instead that the decision to end the order is based on four-week ICU projections. Four factors determine those projections:
- Estimated ICU capacity available
- Current community transmission
- Current regional case rates
- The proportion of cases admitted to the ICU
The following businesses can re-open, with restrictions: restaurants for outdoor dining and some services at gyms, barbershops, and nail salons. Other businesses can reopen at 25% capacity, including malls and retail stores. Gyms, museums, zoos, and aquariums can reopen outdoors only.
To find the updated status of activities in your county, check here.
This small bright spot of good news for Californians is hopefully an indicator of more to come. While the state is still not remotely close to a full reopening, it at least allows California residents to dine outside. The adjustment gives residents a small glimpse of the return to normalcy that is hopefully in the cards for 2021.