San Diego County falls under new stay-at-home order


Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the latest Southern California ICU numbers and clarify the timeline of implementation for the order. Click here for the latest update.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County residents will soon be subject to new regional stay-at-home orders after Southern California’s ICU capacity fell below 15%.

On Saturday, the state’s Department of Public Health announced the current ICU capacity in the Southern California region was at 12.5%. According to the state, the new order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, effectively giving local officials 24 hours to put new restrictions into place.

The regional stay-at-home order, which lasts three weeks, represents a drastic action by the state as pandemic numbers have surged in recent weeks. Under the order, a number of industries including in-person dining, personal care services such as barbershops and nail salons, bars and movie theaters, among others, have to close.

Other sectors such as retail businesses and malls are allowed to stay open with limited capacity, mandatory masks and social distancing measures. K-12 schools already open to in-person instruction won’t be impacted.

Unlike the state’s four-tiered coronavirus monitoring system, which grades every county individually, the new stay-at-home order will apply more broadly to five “regions” in the state: Southern California, the Bay Area, the greater Sacramento area, Northern California and the San Joaquin Valley.

The 11-county Southern California region — which includes San Diego County — was expected to meet the criteria soon after it was announced Thursday, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom. Southern California’s region consists of San Diego, Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange, Imperial, Inyo, Mono, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

There were 216 ICU beds in San Diego County occupied by COVID-19 patients Friday. Of San Diego County’s 696 licensed ICU beds, 154 were available.

The number of patients with COVID-19 in San Diego County hospitals has increased dramatically from one month ago. There were 297 hospitalized on Nov. 3. The 791 patients hospitalized as of Friday was also more than double the previous peak in mid-July.

Of the 88,000-plus cases logged in the county since the start of the pandemic, 4,806 — or 5.5% — have required hospitalization and 1,061 patients — 1.2% — had to be admitted to an ICU.

The total number of people hospitalized for any reason in the county is 4,587 — fairly consistent with the past several months — but the percentage of COVID-19 patients in the region’s hospitals rose from 6.7% a month ago to 17.2% on Friday.

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