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California warns stay-at-home order could follow if hospitalization numbers don’t improve

Allan, Allisun and Lilah Gonzalez walk along the Huntington Beach Pier on Monday.
Allan, Allisun and Lilah Gonzalez walk along the Huntington Beach Pier on Monday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

With coronavirus cases on the rise, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday indicated that a stay-at-home order could again be on the way if hospitalization numbers do not improve.

State and public health officials expressed concern that the healthcare system could be overrun in the upcoming weeks by the pandemic as it is surging once more.

Data presented during Newsom’s coronavirus briefing showed that approximately 75% of intensive care unit beds in California are currently occupied. Projections for ICU capacity have Southern California reaching its limit by mid-to-late December. The region is currently at about 74% capacity for its ICU beds.

“If these trends continue, we’re going to have to take much more dramatic, arguably drastic action,” Newsom said.

Those actions could include a stay-at-home order for regions in purple that is more along the lines of the one seen earlier in the year. The state announced that there are now 51 counties in the purple tier. That number includes Orange County, which slipped back into the most restrictive tier regarding virus transmission on Nov. 16.

People demonstrated at the Huntington Beach Pier for the second weekend in a row in opposition to the month-long overnight curfew that applies to counties in the state’s most restrictive tier regarding coronavirus transmission.

The state has already issued a curfew of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for counties in the purple tier through Dec. 21.

Julian Radmilovich, from Anaheim, walks along the Huntington Beach Pier.
Julian Radmilovich, from Anaheim, walks along the Huntington Beach Pier.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“We’re not just now looking at positivity rates,” Newsom said. “We’re not now just looking at case rates. We are now looking in real time at hospitalization numbers and ICU capacity in those regions.”

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported Tuesday that the county currently has 648 hospitalizations due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The number of patients being treated in intensive care units is at 158.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said that all options are in play for how the state will navigate the challenge of the pandemic. He added that officials will focus on measures that will be “impactful and time-limited.”

Ghaly also said that the availability of ICU beds was being looked at as “the primary trigger for deeper, more restrictive actions.”

“Statewide, we see that the second half of December could be pushing the limits in some areas,” Ghaly said. “We want to act sooner than that so that we can get transmission down and we can handle those potential high ICU surges.”

The latest maps and charts on the spread of COVID-19 in Orange County, including cases, deaths, closures and restrictions.

Orange County reported 790 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday. The county did not report any additional deaths due to the virus, keeping the county’s cumulative related fatalities at 1,577. Since the onset of the pandemic, the county has experienced 79,343 cases.

The county healthcare agency also reported 17,236 tests for the virus within the last day, bringing the total number of tests administered to 1,469,434. An estimated 60,186 people have recovered after contracting the virus countywide.

Randall and Jennifer Harris watch the sunset at the Huntington Beach Pier.
Randall and Jennifer Harris watch the sunset at the Huntington Beach Pier.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Newsom said on Monday that the state is expecting to receive 327,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in the middle of December.

There are more COVID patients in California hospitals than ever before, sparking a race to tamp down the increase before the healthcare system is overwhelmed.

Here are the latest cumulative coronavirus case counts and COVID-19 deaths for select cities in Orange County:

  • Santa Ana: 15,255 cases; 331 deaths
  • Anaheim: 13,335 cases; 344 deaths
  • Huntington Beach: 3,373 cases; 89 deaths
  • Costa Mesa: 2,682 cases; 45 deaths
  • Irvine: 2,759 cases; 14 deaths
  • Newport Beach: 1,503 cases; 26 deaths
  • Fountain Valley: 864 cases; 21 deaths
  • Laguna Beach: 337 cases; fewer than five deaths

Here are the case counts by age group, followed by deaths:

  • 0 to 17: 6,503 cases; one death
  • 18 to 24: 11,588 cases; four deaths
  • 25 to 34: 16,821 cases; 21 deaths
  • 35 to 44: 12,601 cases; 40 deaths
  • 45 to 54: 12,861 cases; 120 deaths
  • 55 to 64: 9,622 cases; 219 deaths
  • 65 to 74: 4,880 cases; 309 deaths
  • 75 to 84: 2,529 cases; 343 deaths
  • 85 and older: 1,882 cases; 520 deaths

Updated figures are posted daily at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc. For information on getting tested, visit occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-testing.

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