Will your region be affected by Newsom's COVID-19 stay-at-home order? Here's where California stands

Nicole Hayden
Palm Springs Desert Sun

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced plans for a regional stay-at-home order based on hospital capacity, amid a staggering rise in coronavirus cases that could overwhelm the state's health care system within weeks.

The stay-at-home order will apply to regions facing alarmingly low levels of available hospital and intensive care unit beds. The orders will be given by region, not by county, to areas that see ICU capacity drop below 15%.

No region has been directed to lock down yet, but Newsom said he expects the order to be issued soon based on 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% or less in ICU capacity,” Newsom said.

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Under the new stay-at-home order, California counties will be grouped into five regions. Here's when the state projects each region's ICU bed capacity will drop below 15%:

  • Northern California: Early December 
  • San Joaquin Valley: Early December 
  • Southern California: Early December 
  • Greater Sacramento: Early December
  • Bay Area: Mid- to late December

The stay-at-home order will include a three-week lockdown that prohibits residents from gathering. If implemented, essential businesses such as grocery stores must operate at 20% capacity; bars, wineries salons and restaurant dining have to shut down; and hotels can only be open for critical infrastructure support.

Schools can remain open if they've received a waiver. Restaurants can continue take-out and delivery services, Newsom said.

Which counties are impacted?

Here is the current status of the stay-at-home order for each of the five regions:

Northern California: Order not in effect

  • The region includes these counties: Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity

Bay Area: Order not in effect

  • The region includes these counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma

Greater Sacramento: Order not in effect

  • The region includes these counties: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo, Yuba 

San Joaquin Valley: Order not in effect

  • The region includes these counties: Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Benito, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, Tuolumne

Southern California: Order not in effect

  • The region includes these counties: Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura

Why was the stay-at-home order issued?

The announcement comes after weeks of a rapid climb of new COVID-19 cases across the state. Hospitalizations from COVID-19 have increased nearly 90% and could triple by Christmas, officials said earlier this week. 

“This is not a permanent state,” Newsom said. “This is what we predicted. This is the final surge of the pandemic. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Newsom added that the state is nearing distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine and doesn’t “anticipate having to do this again.” But he said Californians must “meet this moment head on," and "do everything we can to stem the tide, to bend the curve."

All non-essential travel is now restricted statewide, the governor said Thursday.

The current uptick in COVID-19 cases is only the start of a much larger surge, which officials expect to hit in the next few weeks due to holiday activities and gatherings. 

“The effects of Thanksgiving have not yet been felt, they will be felt in a number of weeks,” Newsom said. “This will be a surge on top of a surge.”

The levels are far above those recorded during a summer peak or even in March, when a state public health order restricted people from going outside except for the most essential reasons. That order was later eased.

Currently, 52 of the state's 58 counties are in the most restrictive purple tier of the state's four-tiered, color-coded framework. A recently imposed curfew in those counties, which account for most of the state's population, bars most nonessential work, movement and gatherings but only overnight.

Desert Sun reporter Nicole Hayden covers health in California. She can be reached at Nicole.Hayden@desertsun.com or (760) 778-4623. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_A_Hayden.