SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Hopes that the Bay Area might move out of the current COVID stay-at-home order were dealt a reality check Monday after Governor Gavin Newsom announced the region’s ICU capacity had tumbled to a new low at 0.7%.
During his Monday news conference to provide an update on California’s COVID-19 pandemic response, Newsom said state Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mark Ghaly would likely announce the continuation of the Bay Area’s stay-at-home order on Tuesday.
“Based upon ICU capacity currently, unless those projections are radically different, we can expect that stay-at-home to continue,” said Newsom.
The health order is triggered when a region’s ICU capacity falls below 15%. Currently, the ICU capacities around the state were as follows:
Southern California: 0%
San Joaquin Valley: 0%
Bay Area: 0.7%
Greater Sacramento: 9.7%
Northern California: 35%
As of Monday, California has 2,710,801 confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in 29,965 deaths, according to the state’s COVID dashboard. Other data from Johns Hopkins University showed the state topping 30,000 deaths.
Newsom again listed the shattering toll the pandemic has brought upon the state’s residents. There were an additional 264 people who died of COVID on Sunday, and deaths were averaging 476 a day over the last seven days. An additional 5,681 people have died over the last 14 days, Newsom said.
The governor said there was some evidence of the contagion rate plateauing over the last week. While there was a 6% increase in COVID hospitalizations over the last two weeks, there was a 0.3% increase over the past week. Similarly, there was a 13% increase in ICU admissions over the past 14 days compared to a 5% increase over the past seven days.
Newsom said as part of California’s “all hands on deck” approach to rolling out the COVID vaccine, the state has expanded the pool of those who can administer COVID vaccines to include dentists, pharmacy technicians, National Guard strike teams, paramedics, EMTs, medical assistants, nurse midwives, psychiatric technicians and others.
The governor also said the state this was opening three large-scale vaccination sites at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Padres Stadium in San Diego and CalEXPO race track in Sacramento to speed up vaccinations for priority groups while allowing for social distancing, with other sites to be announced.
Later Monday, the Oakland Athletics and Alameda County health officials announced the Oakland Coliseum would also host a drive-through vaccination clinic.
Newsom offered a reminder that the current focus for vaccinations remained in the first tier group of subjects, primarily healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
“Those frontline workers — that’s why we want to vaccinate the vaccinators — so many of them are in those categories of vaccinators themselves, and those residents that are most vulnerable in these congregate facilities,” said Newsom. “We’ve partnered…with CVS and Walgreens that are doing the lion’s share — not in every county; LA County is a big exception — but notably and substantively in all of those other congregate care facilities.”
Newsom said the state has built-in flexibility to administer the more than two million doses shipped to the next phases and tiers of vaccine priority groups should there be doses queued up with no person on site ready to receive the dose.
“And we will fill out details as we start to get more doses in … We obviously are going to need more doses to get into this next phase, and we hope to learn more with the new [Biden-Harris] administration soon what’s their intent to release more of the stockpile of doses,” said Newsom. “And we’ll start to see greater clarity and then meet your expectations and start to put some timelines or at least some expected timelines so we can deal with the anxiety that I know is palpable out there about when we have that availability.”
Newsom said the state is investing $40 million in a media campaign in 18 languages to urge people to get vaccinated.
During the question and answer session with reporters, Newsom was asked about concerns over the possibility of armed protests at the State Capitol in Sacramento following last week’s deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol
“The answer is pretty self-evident for anyone who’s been around the Capitol, that everybody is, I think, on high alert in terms of making sure that everybody is safe and protected,” Newsom said. People’s free speech can be advanced, but there’s no violence.”
Newsom also said that the National Guard would be activated “as needed.”
When asked about the possibility of President Donald Trump being impeached for a second time after inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol, Newsom said “I’m all for it” before turning his attention back to the pandemic response.
“I’m focused on this vaccine distribution, I’m focused on the surge, I’m trying to drive to get us through this extraordinarily challenging period,” he said. “I support it…but that’s not my focus right now. My focus candidly is on you, and your family and your safety as it relates to issues associated with getting us through this very challenging wave in this pandemic.”