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Stay-at-home order issued for Sacramento region after ICU shortage hits critical level

The Tower Bridge over the Sacramento River in downtown Sacramento.
The Tower Bridge over the Sacramento River in downtown Sacramento.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

A stay-at-home order for the Sacramento region will take effect at 11:59 p.m. Thursday after hospital intensive care unit capacity dropped below a critical threshold Wednesday, California health officials said.

The region — which encompasses Alpine, Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties — dipped to 14.3% ICU availability Wednesday as COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to mount, according to the state. New guidelines call for the tighter restrictions when availability falls under 15%.

Already, new stay-at-home orders have been implemented in the Southern California and San Joaquin Valley regions. Those areas had seen their ICU availability tumble to 9% and 4.2%, respectively, as of Wednesday morning.

Five Bay Area counties — San Francisco, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Alameda and Marin — have proactively implemented the new restrictions.

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The other state-defined regions all remain above the 15% threshold for now, but officials warn that could quickly change and that the stakes for all Californians remain high.

“It is the worst we have seen, and it’s continuing to worsen,” said Dr. Ahmad Kamal, Santa Clara County’s director of health preparedness. “Hospitals are nearing capacity, our staffing is stretched thin — not just in our county, but throughout the state and throughout the nation.”

More Californians died from COVID-19 on Tuesday than on any other day, the latest milestone in an accelerating pandemic that is infecting and hospitalizing residents at levels far eclipsing any seen before.

Tuesday’s statewide death toll, 219, eclipsed the previous single-day high of 214, which was recorded July 31, according to data compiled by The Times.

The latest figure may be a harbinger of higher death tolls. Until this past week, California had topped 200 daily coronavirus-related deaths only four times. That number has been exceeded twice in the last five days.

The weekly fatality average — 135 Californians per day over the last week — is also at a level not seen since the darkest days of the state’s summertime surge.


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