SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — State stay-at-home orders will remain in effect in the Bay Area until at least Jan. 8 with potential to extend depending on intensive care unit capacity projections, state health officials said Saturday.

The state’s stay-at-home order is triggered when a region’s average ICU capacity falls below 15 percent. The Bay Area’s current ICU capacity is at 5.1 percent, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The San Joaquin Valley, southern California and greater Sacramento regions remain under the stay-at-home orders because their four-week ICU capacity projections do not meet the capacity to exit the order, the department said.

The available capacity in the greater Sacramento region is 6.9 percent, while the San Joaquin Valley and southern California regions are down to a grim 0 percent, according to the department.

The health department Saturday said California has 2,345,909 confirmed cases to date, though numbers may not represent true day-over-day change as reporting of test results can be delayed. There were 53,341 newly recorded confirmed cases Friday and the 7-day positivity rate is 14 percent, while the 14-day positivity rate is 12.6 percent, the department said.

There have been 33,391,442 tests conducted in California, representing an increase of 333,131 during the prior 24-hour reporting period.

As case numbers continue to rise in California, the total number of individuals who will have serious outcomes will also increase. There have been 26,357 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

As of Wednesday, a total of 335,983 vaccine doses have been administered statewide. As of Monday, a total of 1,762,900 vaccine doses have been distributed to local health departments and health care systems that have facilities in multiple counties.

HOPEFUL SIGNS

With December dominated by ICU capacity falling and signs of a holiday coronavirus surge, it was easy to miss one bit of good news: A post-Thanksgiving surge finally ran out of steam.

“So we have seen some softening in the rate of rise in our cases,” Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said, just before Christmas.

“It will take a week or so for it to all sort out,” said UCSF epidemiologist George Rutherford. “I think right before Christmas we were starting to see a dip, which was good and we saw it across several indicators.”

Whether or not that positive trend has continued is a little hard to tell right now. The holidays and the weekends have reduced testing and put lags in reporting.

“I think things are going in the right direction,” Rutherford says. “The question is whether there has been damage done to these trends by New Year. We’re not going to know until we know.”

Southern California, however, is a different story — 20,000 new cases in Los Angeles on Friday, with a test positivity rate over 21 percent.

“You know, there’s an interesting thing that’s being kicked around, which is this British variant strain which has been found in San Diego in several cases,” Rutherford explained. “The question that is sort of now circulating is whether this might be strain differences that are causing more disease in Southern California. I think that’s an awfully facile explanation, based on 5 cases, out of 20,000 … but it’s something that needs to be looked into.”

Back in the Bay Area, improving numbers would be just that: an improvement from early December. Real progress would still be a way off.

“At some point we will be able to extract ourselves because a lot of people have gotten vaccinated,” Rutherford said. “I think we have to be on our game over several more months until we get the vaccines firmly in place.”

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