California’s quarantined governor was expected to announce new “drastic action” Thursday to combat the sudden surge in coronavirus cases, potentially issuing a new stay-at-home order for the state’s nearly 40 million people amid fears that hospitals could be overwhelmed within weeks.
Newsom scheduled a news conference three days after warning he would issue new restrictions if the trends continue.
Sources told the Los Angeles Times that the restrictions statewide would be in effect for at least 3 weeks and could impact 23 counties in the state, including 11 in Southern California, as early as Friday. The measures would require all personal service businesses — such as hair and nail salons, and family entertainment centers — to close for the period, according to the Times.
Additionally, capacity in retail businesses will be limited to 20%, and restaurants in the affected counties will only be able to offer take-out dining again, the newspaper reports.
California on Wednesday reported more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases, the most ever in one day. A record 8,500 people are in hospitals, including more than 2,000 in intensive care units, leaving the state with fewer than 2,000 available intensive care beds.
Newsom — who is staying at home after three of his children were exposed to the virus — already has imposed restrictions, including a nighttime curfew in 51 of the state’s 58 counties, an area with nearly the entire state population.
Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous with 10 million residents, also has imposed tighter stay-at-home restrictions and a three-week ban on in-person restaurant dining because of what county health director Barbara Ferrer called “terrifying increases in numbers.”
On Wednesday night, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a city order in apocalyptic tones telling people to remain in their homes.
LA “is now close to a devastating tipping point” that could overwhelm the hospital system, “in turn risking needless suffering and death,” the order said.
The order also bars gatherings of people outside of immediate households with some exceptions and requires travelers arriving from outside the state to fill out an online form. It allows retail businesses to remain open for in-person shopping subject to a county curfew already in place.
Garcetti also urged police and the city attorney to enforce the order, which carries misdemeanor penalties.
In Santa Ana, a city of more than 300,000 people in Orange County, the City Council authorized a mandatory face mask rule and called for police to enforce it.
Overall, California has reported more than 1.2 million COVID-19 cases and more than 19,300 deaths. The state reported 20,759 new cases on Wednesday, surpassing the previous high of 18,350 set just last week.
Public health officials have said the current figures don’t include the COVID-19 infections likely to arise from Thanksgiving holiday travel and gatherings that ignored social distancing precautions.
Those cases probably will start showing up in hospitals around Christmas, said Brad Pollock, associate dean for public health sciences at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine.